The Ministry of Health intends to scale up its Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for persons infected by the HIV virus, by providing access to updated treatment regimes.
“Even in an environment of no user fees there is a gap between the number of persons who are in need of ARV which we estimate to be about 6,000-7000 persons and the number of those who are on the treatment regime which is estimated at 5,500. This performance is among the best in the world,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon said.
Dr. Dixon who was speaking at the National AIDS Committee (NAC) seminar on HIV/AIDS capacity building for private physicians held at the Courtleigh Hotel yesterday (Dec. 4) also stated that the Ministry wanted to achieve 95 per cent adherence to the treatment regime.
She informed that the Ministry intends to expand the number of treatment sites, initiate provider testing at all hospitals, integrate HIV/AIDS services including family planning and out patient clinic, and screen unbooked pregnant women on labour wards as part of measures to fight the HIV/AIDS virus in Jamaica.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon (centre) greets Chairman, National AIDS Committee, Mr. Howard Hamilton, at the National AIDS Committee’s seminar on HIV/AIDS capacity building for private physicians, which was held on December 4, at the Courtleigh Hotel. At right is the Representative, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr. Alejandro Gherardi.
“We are targeting 250,000 persons for screening and diagnostic services. You can help us to close the 20 per cent treatment gap by next year by applying opportunistic preventative intervention, counselling and testing. Achieving universal access by next year would be a major accomplishment for a small developing country such as Jamaica and would certainly be regarded as a global best practice,” Dr. Dixon stated.
In the meantime, Chairman of the National AIDS Committee, Howard Hamilton noted that the role of private physicians is critical in assisting the country to fight the HIV/AIDS virus.
“The success or failure of all our efforts can hinge on the co-operation and the efforts that we manage to engender in our physicians. Because the mandate of the NAC is to foster the multi-sectoral approach to tackling the pandemic and all physicians play a vital role. You in our view can play a crucial role in promoting voluntary HIV testing,” Mr. Hamilton said.
The seminar sought to expose physicians to: the epidemiology of HIV and treatment mandate under the National Treatment Protocol and National Strategic plan; the provider initiated testing and counselling; and the role of the private physician in the national data set. Some 27,000 Jamaicans are living with HIV/AIDS.