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Teen sex out west frightens AIDS official

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAUSharlene Kessna-Duncan, chairman of the St James Parish AIDS Committee, has registered serious concerns about what she describes as the loose and wanton sexual activities being practised by underage children.

Kessna-Duncan told The Gleaner yesterday that she has been frightened by the lewd and crude levels to which sexual activities among children 16 years old and under have escalated.

"The youngsters are having sex left, right and centre," said Kessna-Duncan. "We encounter many of them who come to access some of the services that we offer here at the centre."

She added: "Then there are the OSY (out of school youth), those who for one reason or the other drop out of school and are soliciting sexual favours from sex workers. So as young as they are, they pay for sex."

According to Kessna-Duncan, the youngsters who are getting involved with sex workers are mainly boys on the street who earn money by washing windscreens and carrying out other street-related activities.

Legal hurdles

Kessna-Duncan, who is a trained nurse and phlebotomist, noted that one of the main challenges facing her organisation is the legal hurdles that prevent them from testing these underage children for sexually transmitted infections without the consent of their parents.

"Based on the intake, when these children come to see us we are able to surmise from the data that they are suffering from some form of sexual infections," said Kessna-Duncan.

"Some say, 'Miss, I have an itching and discharge', so we make referrals to the health department; the type five clinic or hospital - but 99 per cent do not attend."

The health professional went on to explaine that the children often did not go because the doctors would conduct vaginal or clinical examinations and then call the police and the parents because it became a legal matter.

"It is at this point when the infection becomes a disease that the parents are told, and if the children confess, then the police are called and perpetrators, if found, are dealt with according to the law," said Kessna-Duncan.

In reflecting on a case she was personally aware of, she told The Gleaner about a 14-year-old girl who was aspiring to become a teacher and who, within a three-month period, had sex with more than 25 men.

She also spoke of a 16-year-old boy who came to her office and threatened to either kill himself or his mother if she did not speak with him immediately.

"His mother was having sex with him and he was so traumatised," said Kessna-Duncan . "He has three CXCs with grade ones and he wants to be a doctor. So I made arrangements for him to be taken to safe haven and now he has qualified himself to enter university to begin studies to be a doctor."