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The AIDS/STD Prevention and Control Project of the Ministry of Health, has received $8 million, as set out in the 2006/07 Estimates of Expenditure, 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 initially started in May 1999 has been extended several times and is expected to end in September 2009. It is a joint venture between the Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Targets outlined for the period 2006/07, 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 the 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.
There are also plans to establish sustainable quality assurance and standard HIV care.
Under the programme so far, there have been several achievements, such as the procurement of HIV test kits 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, special events have been organized to target various groups. These included events held on National World AIDS Day in December as well as a summer party intervention, which saw some 33,000 condoms distributed and over 10,000 reached. The Regional Health Authorities received funding in excess of $12 million to promote healthy sexual behaviour. For their part, the South-East Regional Health Authority has distributed some 60,000 condoms, while condom machines have been installed at the University of Technology (UTech), University of the West Indies, Caymanas Park and hotels in the western region of the island.
The programme has reported a decrease in congenital syphilis and also a reduction in multiple sex partners by men.
The success of the programme can be attributed to its on-going HIV/STI awareness media campaign and live positive campaign, which has reportedly reached one million persons.