Barbados Losing The Fight Against The Deadly HIV/AIDS Disease According To STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Specialist Dr.Vijaya Thani


In 2001, Prime Minister Owen Arthur signaled the high priority he placed on the HIV/AIDS fight by assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of the national HIV/AIDS programme. The Prime Minister has kept the fight on the national agenda by setting up a National HIV/AIDS Commission to advise on policy and co-ordinate the national programme to deal with this disease. At the last National Public/Private Sector Consultation in October, Arthur called on the private sector and civil society to step up their efforts so that there could be “full national participation” in the response to the deadly disease.

He stressed that HIV/AIDS mitigation had become primarily a state-sponsored programme, but its impact was felt across every industry – therefore the fight had to extend beyond the public sector. Arthur said prevention had to be promoted as a “public good”, and therefore financed as such. The Prime Minister said he supported the business coalition model, but called for more civil society coalitions and other mechanisms to be employed in the fight.

Source: Nation Newspaper

In 2001, when Prime Minister Arthur assumed responsibility for the fight against HIV/AIDS, BU had mixed feelings. We felt a sense of satisfaction that this disease, which has the potential to destroy our small country would be targeted with all the necessary resources to ensure its spread was limited. On the other hand, we had a sneaky suspicion that the busy agenda of our Prime Minister might short-change the effort required to lead a successful campaign to mitigate the spread of AIDS/HIV. The National HIV/AIDS Commission was established under the Chairperson of the eminent Dr. Carol Jacobs. When the commission was formed, we had high hopes for its work in helping the epidemic.  This was based on the expertise of the people assigned to the commission, and their professional access to the resources that would be required to start the battle against the lifestyle change, in a society that has developed a reputation of being very promiscuous. 

Imagine our horror when we read the BACK page of the Sunday Sun of 23 September 2007, with the headline “Unsafe Sex”. The article quoted a leading sexually transmitted infections (STI) specialist, Dr. Vijaya Thani as saying, “Barbados maybe losing the battle against the spread of sexually transmitted infections among the youth.” Before we examine what the doctor had to say, it is important that we establish the credibility of Dr. Thani as someone authorized to speak on the subject of AIDS/HIV and its related issues.

It was reported that the goodly doctor has been treating STIs for about 15 years. She has been involved with abstinence training programmes, working with the National HIV/AIDS Commission for 5 years, servicing about 30 primary schools where the target audience was children ranging from ages 9 to 11.

BU prefer to listen to the people in the trenches when evaluating the fight against AIDS/HIV and related STIs, rather than listen to Dr. Carol Jacobs and her army of “women” employed at the AIDS/HIV Commission’s peddling statistics to sell us a view. We take note that Dr. Jacobs, for her good work done in Barbados in the fight against AIDS/HIV, she has received worldwide recognition by her appointment as Chair to the United Nations Global Fund Committee. If the Chairperson of our National HIV/AIDS Commission is receiving international recognition, we should be able to conclude that Barbados has arrested the spread of the disease, right? Not according to Dr. Vijaya Thani. The doctor in her interview with Sanka Price of the Nation Newspaper did not limit her concern to the AIDS/HIV pandemic, but revealed her concern about the ignorance that our youth still have about the dangers of a promiscuous lifestyle.

Her most insightful and disturbing comment was:

These 14-year-olds are having sex because they hear about this thing, and it’s real sweet. At that age, they are not thinking beyond that. Their thinking processes are not developed. They don’t understand the consequences of intercourse; they’re looking at going into intercourse as being part of the crowd, and some of the same kids that are telling them to have intercourse have not even tried it,” she said.

STIs apart, the doctor is very perturbed about the number of pregnant teens – 14 years old – that she sees, and the high volume who have been raped. Police statistics, she contended, did not reflect these numbers as most were not reported.

Prime Minister, O$AThe above statement is the most disturbing of all made by Dr.Thani. We accept that she is using data collected from her practice; also her interaction with young audiences in her capacity as a professional working for the AIDS Commission. When we marry this to her intuition which has been honed by years of experience as a STI expert, we have to listen with respect to what she has to say. This situation reminds us of the pronouncement of Dr. Slosberg (not sure if we got his name correct) many years ago, in the face of opposition from the established medical professionals: Mickey Walrond, Yvette Delph et al, who denied the rate of HIV/AIDS infections when it started to raise its head in the 80’s. We want to applaud Sanka Price of the Nation for highlighting this important information. It is noteworthy that Barbadians did not feel the inclination to discuss this matter on any of our call-in programmes, today (23.09.07).

In a nutshell, we can summarize Dr.Thani’s observations to mean, the expensive education HIV/AIDS programmes that have been put in place for several years now are failing.

Another area of concern for Barbadians was identified in the Tony Best column of 2006 titled, Costly Price Tag. He made the point that the cost of the ART (Anti-retroviral therapy) drugs are very expensive. Barbados is known to have drawn on a World Bank USD15.5 million dollar loan to support the drug bill required to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS. Simple arithmetic says that as long as the HIV/AIDS disease continues to race out of control like a runaway freight train, there is the burgeoning financial headache which the government of Barbados will have to address. A price tag cannot be placed on the health of a nation. However, our concern remains that of the millions spent so far to fight the HIV/AIDS disease, there is little evidence that the growth in the disease especially in the youth segment has dipped.

It seems that Barbadians are disposed to hold Prime Minister Arthur to account on economic matters only. The fact that he has taken control of the AIDS fight dating back to 2001 has never been made an issue by the Opposition of Barbados or the media, given the constant rise in the HIV/AIDS trend over the years. Barbadians continue to remain passive as the social well being of our island continues to slip into the cesspool. There are many critical issues which our country should address as a matter of urgency, yet we say and do nothing as the spin doctors continue to bamboozle us with statistics.


Related Stories Found on Barbados Free Press

12 thoughts on “Barbados Losing The Fight Against The Deadly HIV/AIDS Disease According To STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Specialist Dr.Vijaya Thani

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: STIs

    The two biggest friends to the HIV virus.

    I’ve heard enough of the moral arguments. I know them all inside out, but whilst churchmen and politicians stand about waxing lyrical, ignorant people are being infected! Lets get down to the simple and practical truth on this matter:

    If you don’t use a condom whilst having sex you are at risk from contracting HIV!


    Yes, counselling people to abstain IS important, but it has variable successes.


    WEAR A CONDOM!!!!!

    Give them out free. Thousands of them!! Relative to the cost to the state of a person with HIV/AIDS, this would be minimal.

    We must get the message across. I care not who gets offended – there’s time for that later on!



  3. Yum Yum I like it…

    have you ever had sex?
    No, I don’t mean have you used a woman to virtually masturbate and retain full control of everything you do. I mean have you ever really had a sexual experience where you can’t retain full control of everything you do?

    Use a condom. That is all well and good to say when you are sitting at a computer with your feet up and browsing or blogging. It’s quite another matter altogether when things get hot and begin to boil over.

    Don’t you think people understand the condom concept. It’s not rocket science. The trouble is that for many people it doesn’t work in real life; it requires discipline in a situation where all hell, or heaven (depending on your situation) is breaking loose, and condom discipline just isn’t a high priority in the heat of those moments.
    I mean, people have preached about healthy eating for years, and our hospital is still breaking down with diabetics and suchlike. They know better, but can’t even control what they want to eat.
    When it comes to these powerful fleshly human urges, there is a war going on. If the first side (the spirit) is weak, then the other side (the flesh) is only too willing. Without a strong spirit, then the flesh will dominate, and the end result will be death.
    If you plug your spirit back into its source of life and energy, then you can dominate the flesh, (bring it under subjection) and the result will be life.)
    That, my friend, is how it works.

  4. Unapologetic~well said and a position which we 100% are in agreement. Condoms should be promoted of course but because decisions drive what we do, it means that the root of the issue is in our lifestyle approach. How in all good conscience sell the idea of using condoms to those 14 year olds which Dr. Thani mentioned?

  5. Unapologetic

    I very much like what you have written. You have managed to eloquently express an valid opinion without resorting to christian or moralistic cliches. I like that. Thank you.

    I take your point about the strength of the spirit. Young people who have higher self esteem and self worth ARE far less likely to engage in risky sexual encounters. It is vulnerable youngsters with few interests beyond their peer group (often who are low academic achievers) who are most at risk. Many of these people are disenfanchised and lack the channel to find this moral fortitude or strength of spirit.

    As I mentioned in my provocative comment (someone had to liven things up!) I do agree with counselling people on abstainance.

    I have a female friend of Indian ocean creole descent (and a good cathlolic) who gave her daughter condoms at the age of 11. She also gave the young girl a full and comprehensive sex education course at that same age. One hour per week for many weeks – videos, demos of contraceptives, info on STDs etc….I thought this a bit much at the time, but it damned well worked! Children are bright, they understand things well.

    All this religious prudishness only serves to put a huge taboo around sexuality which young people are attracted to like bees to honey!


    I don’t see anything in my concience that would stop 14 year old girls from being advised to use condoms . In fact, my consciance says very strongly that if they are sexually active already then NOT to advocate condom use would be damaging.

    What, just because they are underage we don’t encourage them to protect themselves against STDs??

  6. How to know your society/civilization is in decline.

    1. Loss of truth.

    So in the spirit of truth challenge yourself with the following statements and questions.

    AIDS is a disease, to be more precise it is a syndrome. Sometimes called a collection of illnesses.

    HIV is a retrovirus claimed to exist.

    HIV is assumed by many as the primary cause of AIDS or even the only cause of AIDS.

    A positive diagnosis by western blot, in one nation may be negative in another.

    The criteria for categorization as a HIV/AIDS death, is different in sub-Saharan Africa from that of the rest of the world. WHY?

    ELISA test is frequently false-positive. Pregnancy being the number 1 confounder.

    Some anti-retroviral like AZT were previously chemotherapy drugs, with horrible side effects.

    AZT might kill you before HIV does.

    Retroviruses are endemic in humans, every human has some retroviral dna in them.

    If you spent billions on a problem with little results, would you question the primary hypothesis?

    What did retrovirologists do before HIV?

    What notable research did Dr.Robert Gallo, the “discoverer” of HIV, do before 1983.

    In 1985 what was Africa’s major problem?
    In 2007 what is claimed to be Africa’s major problem?

    AIDS can cause you to test positive for HIV.

  7. Makaveli so do you expect the masses who can be characterized in this example as sheep to question the kind of hypothesis you are putting forward. It is a science, the use of drugs we mean, so on what basis can a critical mass of people question the hypothesis regarding the use of retro drugs?

  8. It would be nigh impossible for “a critical mass of people” to use hypothesis and critical reasoning to handle an issue as distorted and complex as HIV and AIDS.

    I’m not trying to reach the masses, the
    questions, are posed to readers such as yourself.
    It is a simple challenge, requires a little searching but nothing more difficult that google, no definitive answers necessary. No Ovid,Pubmed etc…

    Questions and statements to YOU, the few who still read, think more than 30mins into the future, question, challenge, analyse etc. Commonly referred to in
    societies bereft of truth as the “lunatic fringe”

    As for the sheep, they are often brought to market when the time is right. Yes it pains me, but to paraphrase the German Nazi party……”it is the wolf’s right to eat sheep”

    I hope that if one reads these blogs, one is at least begining to move outside of the local media bubble. i.e Starcom/Nation,Advocate,CBC nexus.

    And that should put one with at least one foot, on the rung of the ladder, above the sheep.

    Which reminds me, I had lamb for dinner tonight and it was excellent.

  9. hiv/aids and its spread among youths in my opinion is mainly attributed to a lack of information acquired on their parts…

    this trend therefore has to be drastically altered in order to stop the progress of this disease…

    i am 17 years of age and i’m now facing a troubling time because of a lack of information… there are many myths that HAVE to be clarified

    more information in schools now!!!

    lets hope for the best… i surely am

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.