Violence against women raises HIV risk
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) says gender-based violence (GBV), or its threat, is likely to increase a woman’s vulnerability to HIV by making it difficult or impossible to set the terms of an equal relationship.
According to research and communications coordinator at JASL, Nicolette Jones, it is more difficult for women to refuse sex when in an abusive relationship, to get their partners to be faithful, or to use a condom.
“Gender-based violence is about power control. You are controlling the person at almost every level and controlling their sexual activity and the kinds of sexual activities they are having,” she said.
“One of our clients, her boyfriend knows that she is HIV-positive, but to get her upset or to be in control of how she is behaving, (he) purposefully has unprotected sex with her because he knows it will be disconcerting to her,” she shared.
Jones pointed out that the correlation between GBV and HIV is not always clear, and so it is often difficult to access funding for GBV, especially within the context of HIV.
Through projects funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, JASL has been training community persons to educate their peers about abuse, how to recognise the signs and access available assistance.
A silent protest will be staged today, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in the vicinity of the Half-Way Transport Centre to bring awareness that only 75 per cent of cases of sexual violence go unreported in Jamaica.
“We also want to increase awareness that if you are sexually abused, you do have access to post-exposure prophylaxis, a pill that mitigates against contracting HIV, if the person is positive,” Jones said.
She added that on World AIDS Day, December 1, JASL would be placing focus on St James, which has the highest prevalence rate for HIV in Jamaica.
The day’s activities will include vigils in the parish and Kingston.