AIDS/STD Programme Gets $54 Million


As the government intensifies its efforts to tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, the Ministry of Health has received $54 million this fiscal year to carry out its AIDS/STD programme.
This was outlined in the 2004/05 Estimates now before the House of Representatives.
The allocation will be used to continue the control of HIV/STD infection as well as reducing the transmission of the disease in Jamaica and improving the health status of Jamaicans.
The programme, which started in May 1999, is a joint venture between the Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Targets outlined for the period 2004/05 include the continued strengthening of services available in Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) clinics; the maintenance of HIV testing among sentinel groups in all parishes and offering of counselling; the improvement of laboratory efficiency; and, increased training for counsellors in collaboration with University of the West Indies.
High on the agenda for the year also is, the reduction of prenatal HIV/STI transmission and congenital syphilis and, the improvement in contact investigator services.
Under the programme so far, there have been a number of achievements such as the procurement of HIV test kit for sentinel surveillance; the conducting of studies on sexual behaviour of high-risk groups and special surveys in HIV/STD; and, the formulation of study protocol on feasibility of rapid HIV testing.
In addition, more than 1552 women in the parishes of St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew were tested between January and March last year in the Mother to Child Transmission programme and, Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) study was conducted in the parishes of St. James and Westmoreland.
While, the disbursement of condoms (with the South-East Regional Health Authority distributing 48,000) and counselling on HIV/STI help line remain ongoing ventures as well as the upgrading of comprehensive health centre for STI services under the programme, the AIDS/STI awareness media campaign was continued for a three month period.
It was also determined that the new cases of primary and secondary syphilis fell by 29 per cent.

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