KINGSTON — The Ministry of Health's project to reduce HIV prevalence among persons deemed most at risk has been boosted this fiscal year by a $233.9 million budgetary allocation.
This has been outlined in the 2011/12 Estimates of Expenditure, currently being reviewed by the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.
The project, which commenced in October 2009, aims to increase safer sex practises and improve attitudes and behaviours among vulnerable high risk groups; reduce HIV transmission by delaying sexual initiation, promoting abstinence, and increasing condom use among sexually active adolescents; reduce stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS; finalise and disseminate the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy; and support capacity building of stakeholders, and Ministry of Health staff.
Targets initially envisaged, include: establishment of national and sub-national databases, enabling stakeholders to access relevant data for policy formulation for programme management and improvement; availing HIV prevalence data for relevant surveillance populations during the preceding 12 months; targeting a percentage of registered businesses and public sector institutions, to have them institute HIV and AIDS workplace policies and programmes.
Achievements up to February 2011 include: the staging of 10 empowerment workshops for adolescents; recruitment of a consultant to conduct population-based behavioural survey, and a Manager for the Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS (JaBCHA); and establishment of Memoranda of Understanding with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to implement part of the HIV programme at the community level.
Anticipated targets for the 2011/12 fiscal year include: establishing a mentorship programme with tertiary institutions, focusing on youth in specially targeted areas; provision of an intervention toolkit for HIV care and treatment settings for persons living with HIV/AIDS; conducting risk reduction interventions for out-of-school adolescents in high risk communities; implementation of a tracking system to strengthen the follow-up of mother-baby pairs and other children infected or affected by HIV; conducting 60 workshops focused on reducing stigma and discrimination; and designing and printing promotional material to support the National Workplace Policy.
The programme, jointly funded by the Government and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is slated to end in September 2014.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter