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                                                    Professor David Plummer

A visiting Commonwealth/UNESCO Regional Professor in education, last evening challenged faith based organisations in the region to be collective in their message when it came to dealing with and controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

Professor David Plummer, was speaking at the Cave Hill Campus, during the University of the West Indies HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWIHARP) public lecture entitled “HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean: Can Education Make a Difference?”

He said what he wanted to see, was a strong and unified response from faith-based organisations, because at the moment, all he was seeing was mixed messages about prevention all over the Caribbean.

“Mixed messages are the worst kind of educational strategies we could ever imagine and at the moment they are leading to confusion,” he said.

Professor Plummer added that HIV/AIDS was largely transmitted by sexual intercourse and this in essence created confusion within the faith based orranisations. “Some deal with it in an extremely responsible manner while others get so … like a moth to a flame, so diverted by the sexual dimension, that they fail to care, or they fail to prevent HIV/AIDS,” he said.

On the topic of prevention, Professor Plummer said he had some reservations about the ABC concept; Abstinence, Being Faithful and Condom use. According to him, it lacked a very important prevention strategy that he labeled as method ‘D’, which he described as “do not enter”, commonly called by family planners as “outercourse”.

“It is possible to have fulfilling sexual contact without having penetrative sex, and I think in poor settings where condoms cannot be afforded, and in those where men cannot get out of a sexual situation because a peer group will marginalise them and they will become ‘suspects’, then non-penetrable sexual activity is necessary. It has protected many people in rich western countries and in poor developing states,” he said.

He opined that while no method was perfect, he strongly believed that the ‘D’ method should be included in the ABC strategy.

“Abstinence is not perfect, why? Because of human nature. Even people with deep religious callings are deeply tested by abstinence, and many fail. And we are expecting young people to achieve the same level as people with a deep religious calling? I think we might be a little naive there and we have to move from being idealistic to being more pragmatic,” Professor Plummer stressed.

                     Commonwealth/UNESCO Regional Professor in Education (HIV Health Promotion), David Plummer (centre), in conversation with Chairman of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Dr. Carol Jacobs (at right) and Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission Alies Jordan (at left).

Last night’s lecture was one of the several events held in observance of HIV/AIDS week which commenced on Sunday. It was described by Chairman of UWIHARP, Professor Christine Barrow, as “the launching of phase two of the programme”. 

UWIHARP Project Officer, Professor Philip Nanton said Professor Plummer’s areas of research were invaluable to the campus.  

“He has been advising UWIHARP on developing our approach to voluntary counselling for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, among a population that is arguably the most sexually active; that is, the student body,” he said.

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