ARTISTeS are working with the National HIV/AIDS Commission to urge those in the entertainment industry to take responsibility for their role in promoting sexual activity that can lead to HIV/AIDS.
Two months after the launch of their collaboration, the HIV/AIDS Entertainment Champions Core Group – Adisa AJA Andwele, Terrencia TC Coward, Natahlee Burke and Wayne Cool Simmons held their first meeting last Sunday at Bagatelle Great House, St Thomas, inviting 16 deejays and several music artistes in an effort "to bring about change".
"The world is not the same because of HIV/AIDS. Let me narrow it down to Barbados. Young women in particular between 15 and 25, the percentage of HIV/AIDS is startling. In fact, it is second to sub-Sahara Africa," explained AJA, co-ordinator of the CORE group.
He added that artistes were playing a part in that statistic, but that some of them believed they were not responsible for what people did. "That is the perception of a lot of people. In fact that is the perception of some of the deejays. That irresponsible attitude cannot work," he said.
AJA mentioned that Crop-Over unintentionally "is seeming to generate negative . . . cultural patterns and certain attitudes and lifestyles".
The AIDS Commission, with the Division of Youth Affairs, conducted a study last year which showed that 85 per cent of the island's youth said soca promoted sexual activity through its lyrics, while a similar percentage stated that DJs at fêtes and parties strongly influenced youths to have sex.
Although none of the invited deejays attended the meeting, about seven artistes there committed themselves to joining the movement of the CORE group. They included Donella Weekes, Mr DJ, Brian Bumba Payne, Billy Kincaid, gospel artists Sheldon Hope, Mya Daniel and Antonio Boo Rudder former chief executive officer of the National Cultural Foundation.
AJA said the CORE group would include many more aspects of the entertainment business.
"We have to draw the line. We are not just meeting with entertainers; we want to meet with the heads of electronic media, the head of the National Cultural Foundation, nightclub owners, because everybody has to be engaged. HIV/AIDS is our business," he said. (TM)