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JIS News

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will be resuming its extended clinic hours for the treatment of persons with HIV as well as to integrate care of the patients to reduce stigma.

Acting Director of the Treatment, Care and Support Component of the HIV/STI Unit at the Ministry, Dr. Rebekah Hoilett Duncan, told JIS News that due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the extended clinic hours were reduced, and come October to December, patients will have more time to receive care.

Integration of patient care, she said, is geared at decreasing stigma and discrimination, as persons will now go to facilities where chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes, are treated.

“We have increased access to care”, through the expansion of  treatment sites in the public and private sectors, she noted.

Dr. Hoilett Duncan, who spoke with JIS News at the end of the Treatment, Care and Support Annual Programme, held virtually from September 20 to 23 under the theme ‘Retention for Optimisation’, outlined that the Ministry is initiating several measures to ensure that patients remain in care, while eliminating stigma against them at medical facilities.

Along with the training of healthcare workers to deal sensitively with persons living with the illness, “we developed a curriculum to train security guards as well as ancillary workers,” and the process is working for the patents, she noted.

Organisations represented at the forum include the United States (US) President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Caribbean Training and Education Centre for Health (C-TECH), Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), and Jamaica Network of Seropositives (JN+).

The Acting Director said several awards were presented to treatment teams across the regions, and this has left them motivated.

“We are all striving to get all persons living with HIV in Jamaica in care, whether in the public setting, our civil society organisations, or private care. We want to get you in care, so you can be on antiretroviral medication and achieve viral suppression, so that you can live your best life,” she said.

The HIV Treatment, Care and Support Programme is the technical arm of the national HIV/STI/TB programme, with a major goal being to continue management of HIV/STI/TB programmes to ensure universal access to treatment, care and support services for people living with the virus.

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