Red Cross launches new campaign

The Cayman Islands Red Cross enjoyed a successful and well-attended launch of its new HIV/AIDS campaign on Tuesday night at Camana Bay.

Attendees filled the outdoor space at Abacus restaurant to hear what Red Cross Chairman Mark Kay, Health Minister Mark Scotland and Red Cross Programmes Manager Carolina Ferreira had to say about the Save Sex campaign.

Mr. Scotland acknowledged that sex was considered a topic ‘not suitable for the dinner table’ but he encouraged people to break past that taboo and applauded the Red Cross for its efforts to encourage a community dialogue on the issue.

Miss Ferreira’s presentation was full of facts that got people thinking.

‘There are two very distinct and conflicting messages which have permeated our dialogue when it comes to sex,’ said Miss Ferreira.

‘On the one hand we have adults, mainly parents, who have the best of intentions but who themselves are neither equipped nor comfortable discussing the topic, and thus end up passing on the message, albeit unintentionally, that sex is something shameful and uncomfortable. The experience is, in most cases, so dreadful that we have even given it a name: ‘the talk’.’

On the other hand, Miss Ferreira continued, we have the media and its oversaturation of sex and sexuality. ‘Sex sells everything. From Paris Hilton using her sexuality to sell you a hamburger at Carl’s Jr, to PETA promoting vegetarianism, advertisers know that sex gets attention.

‘It has been so overused and so overdone that the message is simply ‘sex is no big deal’ and something which one can, and perhaps even should, use in exchange for getting things, and not necessarily money. Sex has become currency,’ she explained.

‘There is very little being done to address the issue of sex and sexuality in a meaningful, open and honest manner, without shame and fear. It is time to break the taboo and come together as a community and start the dialogue. It is time to ‘Save Sex’.’

‘Save’ sex, not ‘safe’ sex, Miss Ferreira emphasised. ‘Save as in rescue. Rescue it from shame, rescue it from secrecy, rescue it from meaninglessness,’ she explained.

With the help of photographer Chuck Bishop of A Thousand Words Photography and a design by Martha Connolly of Say Wha? Designs on hand, the Red Cross then went on to find the faces of the campaign.

‘There are so many groups that are trying so hard to make a difference in our community, but they are splintered and working by themselves. They end up duplicating services and underutilising resources. There is strength in numbers, and when you want to get the community to embrace an issue you have to set the example. That’s why it was only natural to look for partners whose messages fit with the overall concept of the campaign,’ Miss Ferreira said.

Campaign partners ranged from other NGOs and community groups, to faith-based organisations, government agencies, and even private sector businesses.

The end result was 14 stunning print ads and 4 public service announcements ready to be aired on TV, at the movie theatres, and online.

‘We could not be happier with the campaign, and we are delighted that so many people have attended the launch and are able to share this enthusiasm with us,’ stated Jondo Obi, director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross.

The launch, which was held at Abacus Restaurant in Camana Bay catered to a crowd of nearly 150 people, which included the Governor Stuart Jack, Minister of Health Mark Scotland and Minister of Social Services Mike Adam and Miss Cayman Nicosia Lawson.

‘All I want is to start a dialogue. Whether it’s from seeing the ads on TV or the paper, or from seeing someone with a t-shirt on, I just want to give people something to talk about. It may not seem like much, but quite frankly, we’ve got to start somewhere,’ Miss Ferreira said.

T-shirts are available for purchase from the Red Cross. Contact 949-6785 ext. 27 for details.

For more information on the campaign, HIV and AIDS, or how to get involved, contact Carolina Ferreira at 949-6785 ext. 27 or [email protected].