Condoms or abstinence to halt HIV/AIDS?
What the People say about...
By Johann Earle
Stabroek News
June 23, 2003

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Which do you believe is the most effective way to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in Guyana, the promotion of condom use or the advocacy of abstinence? This week we asked the man/woman in the street for their thoughts:

Kenneth Parris - student: `In our society today I believe abstinence is the only way. My English teacher says that the most affected age group includes those between the ages of 12-25. I think, especially among this group abstinence is a more potent solution than condoms. Plus there are a lot of problems and social issues that accompany using condoms. There is no guarantee that people will use condoms. I know of people who have HIV/AIDS because the boy did not use a condom or because the girl did not want to use a condom. And then there are some people who say that it is not the manly thing to do.í

Natasha Ishrilall - self-employed: `Condom use is the best way, because without condoms anything can happen. I canít say abstinence since, as part of life, people naturally want to have sex. And especially now, it doesnít seem as if age is a factor because even young students are having sex. So my advice to people would be to use condoms.í

Mohamed Khan - security officer: `I would not say the use of condoms because that will not eliminate the disease, which is what we are looking for, total elimination. I personally believe that education is the solution, education in schools and in the communities. Our teachers and elders in society need to do this. As far as condoms are concerned, I wouldnít say that they are not preventative, but they are preventative to an extent. As for abstinence, that is only dependent on the person. But one of the problems that we have to deal with are those people who know they have the disease and they still spread it to other people. I believe that people who have been infected should be separated from society, let them not be among the general public. That is one solution.í

Renuka Khan - housewife: `We are all human and we need sex in our lives. Using condoms and sticking to one partner is the safest thing you can do. I donít think young people should even be thinking about sex because that gets you nowhere, but I also believe that sex education should be taught in schools because children today are reckless. I think abstinence is safer, but I donít think that it could succeed in our society. People will listen to what you have to say but they will not abstain from it. The problem now is that people donít think about the consequences of their actions and there are many other ways of satisfying yourself.í

H. Thomas - businessman: `I think the best way of combating HIV/AIDS is building a special village or camp, where every infected person would be placed. Condoms are a waste of time, because once there is a steady relationship between a man and a woman, they donít use condoms anymore. And further, when you encourage the use of condoms, you are basically telling people `no big thing, go right ahead.í Abstinence on the other hand is tantamount to lunacy. Any doctor will tell you, that for a man to have a healthy body, he must copulate once every fortnight. Itís nature and you canít tell people to stop. But I think that establishing a village or a camp would serve as a warning to people, like jail. Nobody would want to be there.í

Alison Denny - banking officer; `We have to advise and encourage the use of condoms. We keep talking about abstinence and the rate of infection is still going up. The number of persons infected is still on the increase everyday. When we donít encourage the use of condoms, people still go ahead and do what they want anyway, putting themselves at risk. We should stop fooling ourselves, children, boys and girls are having sex at a very early age and we need to educate them about the risks and their options.í

Richard Paul - self-employed: `The truth of the matter is that condoms encourage people to have sex. Especially people who donít have the slightest knowledge about it. The safest thing that people can do is keep to themselves or find one partner. Even condoms are not 100% safe. Instead of spending a lot of money to encourage people to use condoms or on condom vending machines, I think they should try to get people who are HIV/AIDS positive to talk about the disease and how they are coping with it. I think this would be good, especially for young people who may not know a lot about the disease.í

Joylyn Vansertime - businesswoman: `Safe sex, and that means condoms. You canít live without sex, that goes for everybody. Itís nature, when it calls, you have to fulfill it. I know condoms are not completely safe, but not even marriage is absolutely safe. You can be a faithful wife or husband and still get AIDS. The best solution is using a condom.í

Anthony Powdar - self-employed: `People canít stay away from sex. They can try, but it is something hard, its nature. But condoms are the safest way. People say condoms are not entirely safe, that is true, but they are the only way.í

Sabita Persaud - housewife: `I know that condoms are not 100% safe but I think that we should encourage their use. But I donít think that young people should be encouraged to use condoms; or they should not be encouraged to have sex, they should be encouraged to wait. And even some older people could follow that advice.í

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