Michel De Groulard, Trinidad and Tobago
My name is Michel de Groulard. I am a UNAIDS regional program advisor in the regional office of Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean.
I have been living in Trinidad for a number of years in different capacities, so I know Trinidad pretty well and I know the gay community pretty well as well. I am really concerned about the young people, the young gay men in Trinidad and Tobago. Some of them have been infected at the age of 15 or 16. Most of the time they have been raped by older men, not knowing at that time what was really happening to them. But because of that, they got infected with HIV.
Therefore, you have young guys at the age of 20 who have been HIV positive for the past four or five years. This has become all their life. All their life is centered around their HIV status, because it has impacted their life so much in terms of their studies, in terms of how they relate with their family, in terms of what could be their future professionally, that their life is only being HIV positive. Therefore, they commit themselves to helping others, which is a good thing. But I am a bit worried about these guys whose life will only be HIV. That's one aspect.
The second aspect is that there are a lot of networks that are developed through the Internet, in particular, to make contact among gay men, which makes things much easier than before to know each other. But all these networks are also a lot about sex. Those young guys who are 18 or 19 who don't know too much, they tend to trust the Internet people who are saying that they are HIV negative and ready to have, sometimes, their first sexual experience with somebody that they don't know. They tend to trust based on nothing -- only that the Internet is saying that they are HIV negative. That is a big worry.