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Preventing HIV, sex-based violence and precocious pregnancies in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, September 20, 2021- The Association for the reduction of Vulnerability in Haiti (AREV-Haiti) raised awareness among 400 young people, teenagers, sexual workers (SW) and LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer) in 2 days in Beaumont and Jérémie about HIV and Coronavirus prevention, sex-based violence and precocious pregnancies prevention, the triple role of condoms (against pregnancy, HIV and STI) and on family planning.

Those awareness trainings have been developed with the technical and financial support of UNFPA Haiti and FOSREF, their implementation partner.

Toward a responsible behavior

The trainings aimed at helping young people and teenagers develop a sexual responsible behavior and knowing their rights in term of sexual and reproductive health.

Adults attending one of the talks attentively)
Adults attending one of the talks attentively  

“We are here to raise youth awareness, so that they can change their behavior regarding sexually transmissible infections, like HIV”, a nurse specialized in community health said.  

“We informed them about the different ways to catch the HIV and  to protect themselves against this disease”, Joseline Assline said. 

Since we were meeting young people, we emphasized abstinence, Assline added encouraging them to use condoms if they can’t stop.

Most of the participants were tested for HIV. They received the dignity kits and condoms. Dignity kits comprise bath towels, hygiene paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, undershirts and lady’s underwear.

Take oneself in hand

“I have kept in mind how I am going to organize my life, to plan it, to succeed it , and how to have safe sexual intercourse if I have a boyfriend”, Chrislène  Janvier, 25 years old, student of Higher School of Education said.

“My future is in my hands, I have to protect myself when having intercourse, anybody can’t be my partner”, she explained.

“I have particularly caught information about HIV : one should be tested every three months, one must use condoms”, Mérisma Hollandais, gay, explained. All that can help me in my life and relations”, the 21 years old dancer and esthetician concluded.

Response in Beaumont

The context of Grand’ Anse could be fruitful for the awareness campaign. Indeed, a survey conducted by the Institution for Social Well-Being and Research (ISWBR) and the Departmental Initiative against Trade and Traffic of Children (DITTC) in eight schools in Beaumont in Autumn of 2018, has showed that no less than 74 teenagers and young ladies have experienced a non-desired and precocious pregnancy in Beaumont, a little municipality of  twelve thousands inhabitants in Grand’ Anse. The School of Prophecy had 44 pregnancies.

However, as in many other institutions, most of the cases were not related with the quarantine. Some of the young ladies had to stop their schooling when they got pregnant, others have already given birth. Four cases of rape were being examined.

(AREV-Haiti) started this awareness campaign in Grand’ Anse, particularly in Beaumont, on May 21, 2021, approximately with 135 young people, according to their coordinator.  The second activity took place in Jérémie, on May 22, 2021, for about 150 young people, Prisca Claude Cadet. “We promised those young people that we would bring back the talk to the department of Grand’Anse”, she explained. We have also organized this type of talks in the West Department, particularly in the metropolitan area, in the North and North-East of Haiti, she concluded.  

Vulnerability after the earthquake

Sexual workers and LGBTIQ are part of the vulnerable categories, even more after the 7.2 magnitude violent earthquake that took place on August 14, 2021 in the Global South of Haiti. About 800.000 people have been affected and it is estimated that 650.000 people- namely 40 % out of the 1,6 million people living in the affected departments – need an urgent humanitarian support.

All this has increased the risky groups vulnerability: teenagers, young people, the marginalized groups that are sexual workers and LGBTIQ.

 

Text: Vario Sérant

Photos: Prisca Claude Cadet