AIDS: A Major Cause of Death of Bahamians

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AIDS in Bahamians, ages 15-44

A major cause of death of Bahamians in the age group 15 to 44 is AIDS. This is a result of unprotected sex, ignorance and the reluctancy to get tested and treated. Many Bahamians engage in sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives. Ignorant to the dangers of AIDS, they believe that nothing will happen. When and if there is a slight belief that one is infected with AIDS, Bahamians tend to hesitate to get tested or treated because of appearances. However, “as research, investment and commitment into understanding HIV and AIDS increased, so the outcome of people living with HIV improved around the world” (“AVERTing HIV & AIDS”). With innovative and private methods many organizations have formed for the fight against this disease, locally the AIDS Foundation of the Bahamas and globally, the Clinton Global Initiative. There has been several advancements in the Bahamas in conjunction with AIDS. Pregnant mothers who are infected with HIV are now able to take retrovirals that will could the baby from being born with AIDS.

The origin of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, AIDS, can be traced back to Africa as far as the 1930’s. The first recognized cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980s when “number of gay men in New York and California suddenly began to develop rare opportunistic infections and cancers” (“AVERTing HIV & AIDS”). Then, AIDS was detected among Haitians in the United States and then among the Europeans and finally among the Chinese. During the year 1982, three thousand AIDS cases were reported in the United States and one thousand of them died. Eventually, AIDS spread into the Caribbean, impaling the Bahamas.

“AIDS is a severe immunological disorder caused by the retrovirus HIV, resulting in a defect in cell-mediated immune response that is manifested by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections and to certain rare cancers” (National HIV/AIDS Center). Like a praying mantis, AIDS is a silent but very deadly disease. HIV is a “slow acting virus and the majority of infected individuals look healthy and feel well for many years after the infection” and may not even suspect that they harbor the virus (National HIV/AIDS Center). This disease is causing so many deaths and many Bahamians are unknowing of the serious dangers of it.

The crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1980‘s led to an increase in sex for drugs and sex with drugs. The use of cocaine caused impaired judgement, resulting in persons having sex with multiple partners. Statistics show that approximately 30% of persons with AIDS used cocaine. Following on the crack cocaine epidemic, the STI clinic documented an alarming increase in persons with genital ulcer diseases like syphilis and herpes. Bahamian Infectious Disease and STI experts documented the “connection with genital ulcer disease , HIV infection and cocaine use, causing risky behaviors, which resulted in the spread of HIV” (National HIV/AIDS Center).

Many Bahamians are having unprotected sex with several partners which has led to this AIDS epidemic. Many Bahamians, especially the young, believe that sex without a condom is what is considered “cool” or “stylish”. But, they are terribly wrong. As AIDS is a disease that may not show signs for up to eight, even ten years of being infected, unprotected sex is not cool, nor is it stylish, it is extremely dangerous and imprudent. Statistics show that of the total 10,841 HIV infections, 7829 are in Bahamians between the ages 15 and 44. Which means, 72% of the total HIV infected Bahamians are between the ages of 15-44. It is clear that the bulk of the population engaging in unprotected sex are between these ages. In the Bahamas, the cumulative number of AIDS cases by age group and sex as at December 31st, 2006 was highest between the age groups of 15 and 44, reaching totals of 1000 (HIRU). According to a survey conducted with 260 Bahamian adolescents assessing their knowledge attitudes...
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