Surfing for love and HIV awareness

Last Saturday’s Valentine’s Day Surfing
for Love and Awareness event at Grand Harbour attracted a youthful crowd
between noon and midnight.

Sponsored by the Brick House,
Cayman Aids Foundation and Tink Again Youth Empowerment Project, the purpose of
the day was threefold: to

raise
awareness and funds for HIV prevention in the local community and to set up
youth programming island-wide in Grand Cayman.

According to Margaret Michaud
programme coordinator of the Cayman AIDS Foundation, the motivation of the day
was firstly to highlight a disturbing trend. 

“The 20 to 40-year-old age group
needs to take on board the fact that they are the highest group for HIV  infection within Caribbean region and that
means that they are at the forefront of transmission.

“The good news is that of the four
modes of transmission of HIV we here in Grand Cayman, we have a handle on
three,” she said.

“We no longer see now mother to
child transmission; we do not have an intravenous drug problem and our blood is
tested in terms of transfusion leaving only unprotected sex as the greatest
mode of transmission.

“This is why Cayman AIDS Foundation
and Tink Again have put out a new promotional product bookmarks and postcards
titled “Wha’ if it were you?”

Ms Michaud said: “We’ve launched
this campaign to educate the community and we’re offering education and asking
people to protect themselves.”

She said that the foundation was “excited
to have the local artists and musicians step forward and join in the Love and
Awareness campaign.”

Surfing at the Black Pearl Surf Park
was also a big part of the day. Organisers like Luigi Moxam of Tink Again said
that particular sport was chosen “to get young people involved”.

He said: “We embraced a sport that is
fun and playful. So many local surfers went out into the community to receive
pledges and the money in turn went to Cayman Aids Foundation for its youth
programming.”

Commissioner of the Royal Cayman
Islands Police Service David Baines and the Dean of St. Matthew’s University
Student Services Jan-Michael Maw also turned up and caught some waves.

“They are both to be commended for
being thoroughly good sports and for being civic-minded,” Ms Michaud added.
“Their participation really helped highlight the importance of the issue.”

According to the AIDS campaigner, a
significant number of local artists and craftsmen gave a percentage of their
profits to AIDS awareness youth programming.

Live music was played throughout
the event with sets by local bands Charlie Goes Electric, IZ, Skillo, and Jeff
Alban Experience, Bona Fido and Black Eyed Squirrels among others.

Local hip hop band DLS laid down
tracks and produced a CD called Awareness: One island, many cultures, one
vision. Together we will stop the spread of HIV AIDS.

The group has pledged that all the profits
from the sale of the CD will go to the Cayman AIDS Foundation. Vivendi
performers also entertained the crowds.

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