We live in an era where information is power.
And that power is pretty much in our hands when one considers that with a single swipe we can access information on any topic matter on the planet to be enlightened, informed, and make right choices.
That’s partly why yesterday’s revelations from the Report on Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Sexual Practices Survey Among Adults Ages 15 to 49 In Barbados 2016-2017 were so mindboggling.
It baffles the mind that in 2019, Barbadians continue to engage in risky sexual practices, endangering their lives.
According to the researchers, Barbadians are still having sex with multiple partners at the same time, using fewer condoms, and staying clear of getting tested for HIV.
This telling data was delivered by assistant director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission Nicole Drakes.
Of the 1, 255 people surveyed only 33.9 per cent got tested, while 57. 3 per cent refused to use condoms with their regular or casual partners because they did not deem it necessary.
Drakes said: When we go out on a community outreach programme, we often get people saying they don’t need condoms, yet they are having sex.”
Add to this, concerns highlighted by the Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for communicable disease Dr Anton Best of a sharp rise in sexually transmitted infections, diseases that should be easily prevented if Barbadians would use the information provided to change their lifestyles.
“Data is showing us that we have sustained high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea and then there has been an outbreak of syphilis and since then the annual rates of syphilis have remained high.”
The officials also pointed out that a number of people were engaging in sexual intercourse under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, impairing their ability to make wise sexual decisions.
According to the data, “roughly 42 per cent (41.7%) had sex under the influence of alcohol, 15.3% under the influence of non-prescription drugs and 14.4% had sex under the influence of both alcohol and non-prescription drugs,”
These findings should concern everyone, even those who practise safe sex or are not sexually active.
Regardless of age, gender or sexual experience, you could be at risk of contracting an STI. It is foolish to assume that STIs are solely a problem of careless young people and commercial sex workers. One foolish encounter could ruin your life.
There is really no reason to be careless with sex unless you want to gamble with your life. The consequences are far too dire.
Experts have warned us that it is getting harder to eradicate some STIs because of resistant strains.
Untreated STIs can lead to serious long-term health consequences.
Surely, life is worth more than those few minutes of sexual gratification. And in any case sex is only particularly gratifying if it enhances your life, not diminishes it.
While the authorities indicated that the findings of the study information will now be used to redouble their efforts to tackle the problem., the fact is the solution lies with all of us.
All the money, public service announcements, condom distribution campaigns and the like will all fail if we are not prepared to use the information we already have to protect ourselves.
The bottom line is your sexual health is your responsibility.
Protecting yourself is your responsibility.
Living a long and healthy life is your decision. So choose wisely, you have every reason to live.