Washington Post Examines Jamaican Campaign To Address HIV/AIDS Stigma in Country
The Washington Post on Sunday examined an HIV/AIDS campaign launched last year in Jamaica that aims to "destigmatize" the disease and to teach HIV-positive people the "importance of protecting others" from contracting the virus. According to the Post, the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Environment "had to walk a fine line" when developing the campaign so as to "convey that an HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence" but also to teach the importance of safer-sex practices and abstinence.
The campaign featured advertisements of an HIV-positive woman who represented many elements common among people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, including "unemployment, marginalization and poverty," the Post reports. Ads of the woman, named Annesha Taylor, were placed on billboards, posters and fliers, as well as on television and radio commercials, to give the disease a "human face," the Post reports. According to the Post, many people assumed Taylor was an actress, but others "took her apparent well-being as evidence that HIV isn't so dangerous after all."
However, "after months of promoting the message 'I use a condom every time,'" Taylor became pregnant and subsequently lost her role as the campaign's "public ambassador," the Post reports. According to the Post, the "prospect" of an unmarried pregnant woman promoting abstinence and responsible sexual practices "did not sit well with ministry officials." Although most "Jamaicans are born out of wedlock, ... unmarried pregnant women still carry the stigma of moral failure," the Post reports. Taylor said she believes that she was removed from the campaign because the health ministry did not want to upset donors, many from the U.S., who want to promote abstinence and monogamy (Dawes, Washington Post, 6/8).