18 Per Cent Drop in AIDS Deaths Last Year


Jamaica is making gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS with an 18 per cent reduction in reported AIDS deaths in 2006 over 2005.
Within the same period, there was also a 49 per cent drop in the number of reported AIDS deaths among children under nine years old.
“This decline we attribute to the prevention of mother to child transmission programme and increased access to anti-retroviral treatments,” said Minister of Health Ruddy Spencer, in a speech read by the Environment Health and Safety Manager at Sandals Montego Bay, Lisa Simpson, at a HIV/AIDS conference for leaders held on Tuesday (Nov. 27) in Montego Bay.
He noted that despite the gains, “we have to re-double our efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS” by expanding education and prevention activities within the communities, workplaces, and churches, and among young people in and out of school.
“All of us have a responsibility to make our corner open-friendly and supportive of persons living with HIV. We must intervene whenever stigma or discrimination occurs in order to stop it. I call on leaders everywhere in Jamaica to stand up and become an HIV/AIDS advocate,” the Health and Environment Minister urged.
The conference, which was hosted by the St. James Health Department in collaboration with the HIV/STI Prevention and Control Programme under the theme: ‘Stop AIDS; Keep the promise . through leadership,’ drew attention to the social and economic problems associated with HIV/AIDS and to encourage strong multi-sectoral leadership in the fight against the disease.
Some 60 leaders from government and non-governmental organizations, the church, law enforcement and private sector groups participated in the event.
Minister Spencer noted that the focus of the conference on leaders is in keeping with this year’s World AIDS Day theme of ‘Leadership for Life’.
“On behalf of the government of Jamaica, I urge every leader in Jamaica to support this emphasis,” Mr. Spencer said. “As a leader, we have a special responsibility to draw attention to the serious challenges that we face, one of which is the HIV/AIDS and its potential devastating impact on the economic and social fabric of the nation, if it is not halted,” he stated.
HIV/AIDS Prevention Technical Officer for Western Jamaica, Sheryl Peart, said that “what we would like to see coming out of this conference is that the (private sector) stakeholders will be responsible enough to either begin a workplace programme, do something active towards the fight against the disease in collaboration with us of course, because that is the sustainable approach”.

JIS Social