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persons living with the disease. managing HIV/AIDS akin to treating if their lives depend on it. Young people
lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure believe they cannot die… their hormones
“I never get tired. That is my role in life,”
and diabetes. Antigua has been forefront in are raging. And that’s why the figures are so
he says simply. “There is no better feeling
receiving these treatments, due in no small high in the 19-24 age group. We believe they
that when you see people very sick, and then
part to Sir Prince’s efforts. Long before get infected in their teen years, when they
you’re able to help them, and see them regain
the government began allocating free anti- believe they’ll live forever. Some people have
their health.”
retroviral medication in 2005, when he was to learn the hard way, despite you telling
The most famous example among his
appointed national co-ordinator, Sir Prince them. I have been in this field a long time…
patients is possibly King Zero, who was
spent 15 years seeing HIV/AIDS patients I have seen everything now. I think the Lord
among the first to publicly acknowledge
for free, and providing them with up-to-date has allowed me to live long enough to see all
he was living with the disease. His winning
treatment. these things.”
tune, which highlighted the need to
“You can’t ever predict how long people This long-time advocate says he’s winding
“Protect Yourself,” allowed Sir Prince to
will live,” he says. “I never try. I always tell down his career, which will allow him more
combine his two passions: as physician and
my patients they’re going to live to come time for yet another of his distractions:
songwriter, the latter one of many projects
to my funeral, and I don’t plan on going dominoes. He’s played every Saturday for
in collaboration with the legendary Shelly
anywhere just now (he smiles). I have over 30 years with longstanding friends in
lived long enough to see people who have the Paradise Domino Club.
Sir Prince’s calypso fervour got its roots
discriminated against persons living with
with the Four Square Club in Willikies,
HIV end up with their mothers having it, or
“If you want something done, give it to
which his father owned. He remembers
they themselves having it. They later come
a busy person,” he says. “The man who has
this is where Swallow got his start, listening
back and apologise for their attitude.”
nothing to do, don’t ever ask him to do
anything. He will have all sorts of excuses.”
to old tunes on the jukebox. In time, the
Tackling HIV/AIDS in a small population
young Prince moved to England, where
brings intrinsic difficulties, particularly
His role as clinical care co-ordinator
his brother was a songwriter, and that
those related to stigma and discrimination.
involves training nurses, doctors, and
inspired a collaboration of past and present
Many times, Sir Prince has had to explain
pharmacists, but the former president of
the intricacies of Antiguan society to
the medical association believes the stigma
When he returned to Antigua in 1976,
conference facilitators from the US and other
attached to HIV/AIDS has also affected the
having studied at Oxford and the University
First World countries. His passion keeps
medical community’s willingness to openly
of the West Indies, he began mingling
him abreast with international figures and
align itself with the fight.
with the calypso fraternity, and eventually
developments, which he reels off as easily
Perhaps this is why Sir Prince’s voice
produced the Wadadli Gold album in 1980,
as reciting his age, address and telephone
remains the loudest in the choir, although
featuring Chalice, Redding, Solo, and Jim.
he hopes it will eventually fade into the
Then came Wadadli Diamond in 1981, and
Nationally, he commends Minister of
Wadadli Pearl in 1983. These were the first
Health John Maginley for recognising the
in over 40 calypso albums he has produced
disease’s implications for a small population,
since. Sir Prince has always enjoyed dabbling
and taking a serious approach to combat
with rhyme, and has written for over 45
calypsonians, winning seven crowns in five
years. The number of positive HIV notifications
Sir Prince delivers varies. Some weeks,
He says inspiration is all around, but
there have been up to four, while at other
this must be tempered with timing. He
times, several weeks will go by without one.
references Zero’s performance of Protect
Delivering the news is never easy, but this is
Yourself, which earned him the calypso
somewhat cushioned by pre-counselling.
monarch title just before his death. “Who
else could have sung that song?” Sir Prince The physician tempers the bad news with
asks rhetorically. “The message and the hope. “There was one guy who said he was
messenger must be right.” going home to kill himself after he was told
that he was HIV positive,” he recalls. “I said,
Working with Zero exposed a conflict
well, if you do that you will be dead tonight,
between holistic and traditional medicine’s
but if you wait for AIDS to kill you, you
treatment of the disease, which Sir Prince
may get hit by a bus at age 80 trying to cross
says has contributed to a number of patients
the road.”
foregoing medicine, to their detriment.
“We’ve had eight deaths so far this year, He’s still aware of the heart of the problem
and none of them were on medication,” he he and other health workers face in trying to
shares. “Within one year, 50 patients stopped slow the disease’s spread.
turning up for treatment, because they feel
good, so they don’t think they need to take
“It’s sexually transmitted. It’s as simple
as that,” he says. “Any disease that can be
transmitted by sex is going to be a problem.
Developments in medicine have made People will not stop having sex… even
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