After reading the article by Ingrid Brown on August 7, “Ja gets gay lashing”, I was compelled to write on what I see as your newspaper’s biased reporting on issues about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS. The statement, “It was not immediately clear why the AIDS conference was used to provide a forum for homosexuals”, is hypocritical or at the very least, interesting, when in past articles, your newspaper consistently made a correlation between the rise of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and homosexuality, which is actually false. See the following:
“The predominant route of HIV transmission in the Caribbean is heterosexual contact.” (AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity based in the UK http://www.avert.org/caribbean.htm).
“The primary mode of transmission in this region is intercourse; unprotected sex between sex workers and clients is a key factor in the spread of HIV” (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/2008_Global_report.asp).
If I may, I will try to connect the dots for you. Rabid homophobia, as is present in Jamaica, serves to force homosexuals underground. This makes it harder for government services and information on the importance of safer sex practices and regular testing to reach those who are most vulnerable and who need it, therefore perpetuating the ignorance among many homosexuals on how the virus is transmitted. This homophobic attitude will often determine how government resources are spent on combating HIV/AIDS. I believe the heading of the article should have read, “Ja gets homophobia lashing”, because the point Mr Carr was trying to make was the correlation between homophobia and the rise in HIV/AIDS in Jamaica.
Ms Brown, if you and your newspaper are truly committed to being of service to Jamaica, and I am sure you both are, then I would suggest that more factual, unbiased research on the issues of homosexuality, homophobia and HIV/AIDS and the intricate relationship they share, be pursued to better help our society understand that what affects one group affects us all. For too long as a society, we have allowed our personal attitudes and views – mostly negative – on homosexuality to affect how we address the social issue of HIV/AIDS and homosexuality, and as a result, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Jamaica has risen steadily over the past two decades.
I read the Observer daily and look forward to more unbiased reporting on these issues, something Jamaica desperately needs.