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Dr Sands: Free Condoms For Students 'The Way To Go'

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

By Farrah Johnson

HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said he believes a revamped approach to HIV prevention and treatment inclusive of sex education and free contraceptives for students is “the way to go”.

At the Testing in the Gardens event Friday, the minister said the country is living in a “bubble”, where Bahamians “pretend like they don’t have sex”, and if they do, they act as if “it’s always responsible or protected.”

“We see a significant number of teen pregnancies, and we’re not only seeing HIV, but syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and other sexually transmitted infections,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the event at Victoria Gardens.

“Part of this has to do with the fact that we have not been real with the conversation, particularly with our young people, and so they operate with misinformation. I think now we can no longer afford that naivety. So we have to keep it real,” he said.

Dr Sands also said that the conversation as to making contraceptives like condoms available is going to “hit hard up against conservatives”, who believe that celibacy is the only way.

He admitted that while celibacy is “indeed” a strategy, the question still remains on whether the practise holds any weight with the Bahamian population.

“We know that a lot of our young people 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 (are) having sex. I ask people to look in the mirror and ask yourself, when did you first have sex? And if the answer was 15 or 16, then why would you think it’s going to be any different now?” he asked.

The minister said the “social approaches” employed over the last decade need to be “revisited” and assessed “critically.”

“Sex education in schools? –Absolutely. Availability for condoms in schools for free? –Absolutely,” he said.

“When we start to get into what exactly we do in the schools and how we liberalise access to birth control and other types of family planning tools, it is really going to get hot because you’re going to buck heads with a number of individuals who feel that maybe we’re pushing an agenda which is going to encourage promiscuity,” he explained.

Still, he insisted that this was not the case, emphasising that the main goal is to “ensure that not a single additional Bahamian is HIV infected.”

The minister said this indicates that measures have to be employed to save “at-risk youth”, as well as vulnerable people, who he characterised as gay men, commercial sex workers, and “people with multiple partners.”

Dr Sands asked people to “acknowledge” that the strategies employed in the past “have not worked well.”

He also revealed that the ministry is working on a “90/90/90 strategy”, in an effort to eliminate HIV in The Bahamas by 2030, after stating that the country has the highest rate of the virus outside of Sub Saharan Africa.

“What we intend to do is to know the status of at least 90 percent of the people who are HIV positive in The Bahamas, and of those 90 percent, we’d like to know that 90 percent of them are on effective treatment, and that at least 90 percent of them, have adequate suppression of the virus,” he explained.

Still, Dr Sands expressed some content over the “tremendous strides” they have made in “reducing the number of HIV infected persons over the years.”

“So the idea of having everybody know their status – if you turn out to be negative—then you can reinforce your safe sex behaviours—if you turn out to be positive –we will counsel you confidentially and sympathetically, and compassionately, but we will tell you about all of the treatment that is available to allow you to live as close to a normal life as possible,” he said.

Comments

BahamaRed 2 years, 1 month ago

I went to college in 2002 and they had free contraception along with free testing at the on campus health clinic.

Again...arse backwards Bahamas.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 years, 1 month ago

Agreed. This is the first thing that Duane Sands said that I agree with. The HIV statistics in this country are staggering and at the same time so many people are pretending to be "holier than thou".
Some people will say that this will encourage youngsters to have sex (but news flash... they're already having sex). We have to get young folk (and single older folk on that note) to get the point to say "I will not have sex with you unless it's with protection".

Abstinence is a good thing (for those who will actually abstain). I commend the young folk who take that stance and actually live by it. However, many young people don't and in those cases they should have more options for protection.

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PastorTroy 2 years, 1 month ago

This is a responsible thing for a Government to do to protect its people. if the 'conservatives' were truly honest with themselves, they would preach abstinence while handing out condoms, just in case, the teen decided to 'fall weak' like them (the conservatives) when they were a teen. While they at it keeping a few condoms in their glove compartment it may reduce conservatives having two households/family too.

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realfreethinker 2 years, 1 month ago

Y'all know Bahamians like to "juice" so it only follows to encourage protection. Abstinence is a waste of time. Sex is part of the human construct.

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gkeato 2 years, 1 month ago

Finally a politician with great understanding of the real world. A chance to prevent so many health and human life problems. Well said, sir.

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bogart 2 years, 1 month ago

EXCELLENT move by Dr Sands.

All dese matters relating to sexing has to be jointly educated by da parents....the church...thd schools...etc.like dey uses to be done in the past.......HOWEVER....when one major part of the educating process....has absconded....abdicated dere role ..?the CHURCH.....in favour of worshipping dere almighty dollar.....is where we have the major problem.....as it falls on the shoulders of the school teachers yo do everryting in raising dese chillren......churches should not exist to make money...tax free exemptions....?.and should bear some costs for abdicating their role...and the costs...results....now..bourne by...hospital pregnancy hiv..unit...social services....school teachers....govt....is like running a car wid one flat tire.....mind you there are a good number of churches who does an excellent bestest job they can.....

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 1 month ago

Oh Dr Sands, you poor soul, you know the good Christian people of the church ga probably sharpen one Jesus cross to be like a vampire stake and drive it thru ya heart.

Bahamians (being Christians) do not have sex, and neither do their well behaved, God fearing, saintly offspring. (Although, i'm not sure if "offspring" applies to test-tube babies).

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bogart 2 years, 1 month ago

Ya forget da ....'stateless' ...no nationality...but are born.....and become Bahamians upon applying at age 18 years.....then again there ...

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

We know what Doc Sands has in mind for the school children ........ we await the Deacon. Teenage sex and pregnancy goes hand-in-hand with dysfunctional homes and lack of opportunity in education .......... Still NO word on fundamental changes needed to reform the educational system of our country ......... The "public-private partnership" in the colonial Bahamian education is truly not helping the 75% of those in the (mostly failing) public schools today. The $300 million investment in education is not being maximized.

The few who get the "scholarships" to go to the 10 or so decent private high schools should not be the way to build a country's human resources.

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joeblow 2 years, 1 month ago

Condoms are not a cure for the societal ills that contribute to sexual promiscuity.

People will make better decisions when given APPROPRIATE training and guidance. They are not getting it in the homes because too few see the importance of it. This nation has failed to do that with abstinence and assumes people are just morally weak animals who lack self control!

This country should be embarrassed at the one sided message it is sending our young people. Had Dr. Sands mentioned his condom plan in COLLABORATION with an intensive prolonged public health education program to help change peoples sexual behavior it would have been more tolerable. What a disappointment!

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bogart 2 years, 1 month ago

Wasnt thre a previous Minister who wanted to have condoms available for pridoners in Foxhill.???

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

The peoples time voters will now see where the VAT money gone. to buy condoms In the mean time the \morgue fees have been increased, Some Bahamians can not buy food

Without vision the people perish. Tax poor people to death then throw them crumbs..

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ashley14 2 years, 1 month ago

We want families not baby's mama.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

70% of Bahamians are bastards now .......... this will not help that.

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 1 month ago

This only encourages them to do it. They still don't know what they're protecting themselves from, the different STIs and ways to get it. Require a test to scare em first. And plant GOALS in their head, not just condoms in their hand.

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TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

Ma Comrades, more reasons calls for citizens know that they can rely on their government providing citizens - not only with Universal BahamaCARE (UBC),,,, But also a Guaranteed Basic Income Supplement (GBIS}.... Along with a Livable Pension and Funeral Expenses Plan (LPFEP).

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

I doubt doctor Sands has the right to give students anything without the consent of their parents. But these FNM fellows have set themselves up as little very small gods.

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