Safer Sex Week is, as the name suggests, a week in which safe sexual practices are promoted and encouraged. This is in an effort to protect persons involved in sexual intercourse from HIV/AIDS and STIs, as well as avoiding unwanted pregnancies. It is usually observed in the week of February in which Valentine’s Day occurs, and national activities in Jamaica are spearheaded by the National Family Planning Board and Sexual & Reproductive Health Agency (NFPB-SRHA).
What is #UltimateProtection?
The theme for 2017 was ‘Condom + Another Contraceptive = #Ultimate Protection’, emphasising the need for dual protection. To ascertain dual protection, persons are encouraged to use a condom at every act of sexual intercourse, as well as one other contraceptive method, whether it be the intrauterine device (IUD), hormonal implant, the Pill, Depo-Provera injection or vaginal rings.
Statistics Around Safer Sex in Jamaica
On a global scale, the 2016 UNAIDS Prevention Gap Report found that the highest increase of new HIV infections is within the 15-29 age group. A Gleaner article on Safer Sex Week, ‘Condom+1 For Everyone’s Protection‘, noted that, “One per cent of all live births in Jamaica are to adolescent girls, many of whom reported that their pregnancy was either mistimed or unwanted.”
According to the 2012 HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitude & Behaviour Survey of Jamaica: “Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean and with an estimated 32,000 persons living with HIV, had an adult prevalence of 1.7% in 2011 (UNAIDS 2010). Jamaica’s National HIV Strategic Plan 2012 – 17 describes the HIV epidemic as mixed, given that it demonstrates features of both a generalized epidemic as well as concentration among high risk groups including Commercial Sex Workers (9%) (Duncan et al 2010) and Men who have sex with Men (32%) (Figueroa et al 2011). While the prevalence in the general population has remained under 2% over the last few years, great concern has been expressed about the high risk groups. The prevalence among other high risk groups range between 5 – 10% including prison inmates (4.8%), crack/cocaine users (5%) and the homeless (10%) (Duncan et al, Ministry of Health, Jamaica 2010, Figueroa et al 2008, UNAIDS 2010).”