AIDS On the Rise Among Cuban Youth: Do We Care Enough?

HIV infections are on the rise among Cuban youth.  But the problem is not that youth don't care about their future, the problem is that we don't care about their future.

According to The Gazette, “Cuban health authorities have warned of a dramatic rise in AIDS cases among the young on the island, where there over 1,300 new HIV infections in 2008 and another 1,400 are estimated for this year.”

When I see alarming rates posted on newsites, blogs, and television segments, I always think to myself, “Where are the educational programs, resources, and condoms?” We don’t think these things are appopriate for young adults, yet we steadily see an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies among young people ages 16-25.

Cubans ages 19 to 24 are at the greatest risk of infection, said Jorge Perez, deputy director of the Tropical Medicine Institute in Havana, warning of the dangers of unprotected sex, the Gazette reports.

I disagree with this statement. Young people look for things to do, and when resources and opportunities are removed from communities, people get bored, and they find more entertaining things to do. The problem is not that youth don’t care about their future, the problem is that we don’t care about their future. I don’t see the government pouring money into education programs or more community youth projects, I see their government blaming them for not finding “constructive” things to do instead of practing “un-safe sex.” People do risky things, when they feel they don’t have substantial things to do, if we provide another outlet for them, I think we will see a decrease in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Education is key in these sort of matters. People should know the risks inherent in sexual activity, they should know the risks that are associated with sex, they should be aware and prepared to be safe when they do have sex. Are we doing everything we can to make sure they are?
Of the total of 11,469 cases of HIV infections recorded in Cuba since 1986, 4,602 people developed aids and 1,864 died, according to official figures.
The statistics are scary and rising at alarming rates. Cuban officials should take a look at the programs and information offered and see if there is anyway it can be updated to reflect new findings and figures. Young adults need information and resources, and when those things are not provided, we see an increase in death among young adults, and that is not acceptable.