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Jamaicans living with the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are being encouraged to take advantage of the anti retroviral (ARV) drugs, which the government readily provides for all persons afflicted with the disease.
“Some people are afraid to go for it.I am saying to you if you are out there living with AIDS, don’t stay at home and die, the drug is available to you,” said Health Minister, Horace Dalley in his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on September 12.
He suggested that persons, who might be hesitant in going for treatment, could “go to the Jamaica AIDS Support and find someone to talk to and they will direct you.find your clinic.go to the Ministry of Health, there are people down there who will see you, and talk to you and direct you on how to access the drugs confidentially”.
“Every single Jamaican, who is infected with HIV/AIDS, must have access to the drug,” he added.ARVs have been available locally for persons living with AIDS since 2004. The Minister disclosed that last year, the National Health Fund (NHF) provided administrative support to the National HIV/AIDS Programme to deliver these benefits to HIV patients.
Up to May of this year, some 2,180 persons were enrolled in the ARV treatment programme, which surpassed the Health Ministry’s target of 2,000 individuals.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dalley has said the Ministry continued to be the lead agency in the fight against the disease and during the year, completed a schools’ policy on HIV/AIDS and a national policy for the workforce, both of which were being disseminated to various target groups.
“We continue to work on reducing stigma and discrimination and to promote the use of condoms, especially among the risk groups,” the Health Minister said, adding that voluntary counselling and testing were also available.
He informed that the National HIV/STI programme had met the performance criteria for the phase one of the Global Fund Project.
“As a result, implementation of phase two has been approved to continue the provision of ARVs. Phase two will also see support to laboratories for testing and prevention and an additional US$15.5 million will be spent on phase two,” he added.