By Anesta Henry
Style met substance on Friday, as young males and the young at heart descended on the corner of Villa Road and Warner’s Road, Brittons Hill, for a fresh haircut and a healthy perspective on life.
Amid the celebration of style and camaraderie, there was a poignant reminder of the ongoing prevalence of HIV/AIDS in society.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey, took centre stage at the annual “Man Aware (Free Haircuts)” event. With his own close-cropped coiffure setting the tone, made an impassioned appeal to citizens to embrace safe sexual practices as a way of life. As he stood at a popular community junction, his message echoed: “HIV is still very real. It is still very prevalent.”
The event attracted children to get a fresh trim for back to school. But beyond the cool haircuts, it was a chance to interact with professionals who shared age-appropriate information about HIV/AIDS. It was a unique opportunity for the younger generation to learn about responsible living in a fun and engaging way.
While the Ministry of Health and Wellness is yet to reveal the latest statistics on Barbados’ HIV/AIDS prevalence, Humphrey said the Ministry of People Empowerment was playing its role as it relates to educating Barbadians about the importance of engaging in healthy sexual practices.
He said: “The numbers we have are from 2020. But I do think that regardless of the numbers, the truth is that it is clear to me that we have to be able to engage in sexual practices that are healthy.
“I think that a lot of people think that HIV is no longer there, and a lot of people are behaving as if HIV is no longer real. In many cases, because of the medication that you now have, it has gone from being a life-depriving illness to almost a chronic illness; it is still very prevalent.”
Encouraging Barbadians to get tested to know their HIV/AIDS status, Humphrey suggested that a person who knows they have a clean bill of health would refrain from engaging in unhealthy sexual practices.
People who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS would be aware that they must make the move to access medication, he added.
The Man Aware event went beyond haircuts by offering health check-ups, including blood pressure and sugar level assessments, in partnership with the Livewell Clinic. Humphrey highlighted the significance of these tests, emphasising that early detection can prevent life-altering non-communicable diseases.
“We are also working with the Livewell Clinic to be able to do health checks so that people can get their blood pressure checks and their sugar level checks to see if they are pre-diabetic or diabetic. This health check is one of the things that I think is going to be very important for the ministry.
“I think it is very important because a number of Barbadians are dealing with non-communicable issues, some of them becoming life-depriving in circumstances where they could be avoided if we get early testing and if we continue to do the things we are supposed to do, like eat right and make healthy choices. So, I want to thank the HIV/AIDS Commission for this work. I want to thank them for their constant advocacy, but I also feel like the time has come for Barbadians to recognise that the health choices we make in terms of what we eat also have consequences.”
The “Man Aware (Free Haircuts)” event, a blend of fashion and substance, continues to make its mark – one stylish haircut at a time – on Saturday at the Child Care Board, Cheapside, The City.