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Talking about Safe Sex

UNFPA Country Coordinator Mario Aguilera (left) explains the workshop's objectives.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is hosting a multi-agency workshop this week intended to strengthen Cayman's national family planning and reproductive health programmes.

The main objective of the three-day workshop (17-19 November) is to increase awareness and understanding of reproductive health issues. Participants include government health officials as well as representatives from non-governmental agencies such as the Red Cross.

UNFPA Country Coordinator and workshop facilitator Mario Aguilar said the UN organisation focuses on improving women's quality of life. "While we will talk a lot about condoms during this workshop, our aim is to reduce infant mortality, reduce unwanted pregnancies (including teenage pregnancy), and reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS."

The workshop agenda includes promoting condom use, implementing effective HIV prevention activities and helping people to change risky practices, such as having unprotected sex.

While on island, Mr. Aguilar will also assess Cayman's national HIV, sexual and family planning programmes.


Message from the Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture

The Hon Mark Scotland

United Nations Population Fund Workshop, 5 October 2009

HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancies are two topics we all wish we never need to discuss. But we have to be honest with ourselves: Both are realities in the Cayman Islands and our young people are increasingly at risk.

And so it is with great appreciation that I open this workshop on Condom Programming and Promotion in the Prevention of HIV and Unplanned Pregnancies.

I am thankful for the partnership we have with the United Nations Population Fund in addressing these issues and know that together we will make headway in the campaign against HIV/AIDS and unplanned teen pregnancies.

Worldwide the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not levelling off, and until a vaccine has been developed, condoms remain the only readily available and effective way to prevent the spread of HIV - and other sexually transmitted infections - among sexually active people.

As such, this workshop is timely and important, and will help to ensure that our health care workers remain ahead of the curve when it comes to prevention.

My ministry will continue to support pro-active sexual health education, and will support our health care workers in their drive to mainstream the idea of safe sexual habits.

But while I certainly applaud the UN, our health care workers, and volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross for being on the frontlines, it is just as important that we all join this campaign. And so on another level, I hope that this workshop will also serve as an eye opener to the rest of us.

We all need to tackle these serious issues head on. Parents especially need to be proactively involved, prepared to discuss these 'taboo' subjects with teenagers, especially our girls - for they are the most vulnerable. Having difficult conversations now can save a lot of tears later.

We need to accept that avoiding talk about sex and contraception does not protect anyone. Without frank conversations, we simply have no chance of changing attitudes, yet altering people's mindsets lies at the heart of the solution.

I accordingly wish you a productive workshop and I hope that you will bombard your community with everything you are about to learn.

Thank you.

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver