JIS News

Chief of Epidemiology and AIDS in the Ministry of Health, Professor Peter Figueroa, has stressed that HIV/AIDS testing in the workplace must be done at the discretion of the employee and not the employer.
Professor Figueroa, who was speaking at today’s (September 20) launch of the Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, said that “while we are promoting that all sexually active persons do an HIV test, we must stress that this must be done on a voluntary basis, with the person aware that an HIV test is being done”.
Speaking further, he said it was also important to acknowledge an employee’s right to privacy, and stressed confidentiality on the part of the employer.
“The persons must be provided with the result in a private and confidential manner with counselling and referral as needed. The counselling is essential, because persons testing negative must be counselled to practise safe sex and avoid taking risks, while persons testing positive must be counselled to help them to adapt to living with HIV as well as refer them for treatment,” Professor Figueroa added.
Citing the National Policy on HIV/AIDS, which was accepted unanimously by Parliament last year, he outlined that, “HIV testing should not be conducted for purposes of employment. This policy is critical in order to avoid discrimination against employing persons who are living with HIV/AIDS”.
While stating that he was in support of health programmes at workplaces that included annual medicals with voluntary HIV testing that was private and confidential, Professor Figueroa said there was no justification for excluding persons living with HIV from the workplace.
The Council’s mission is to facilitate a structured Jamaican business response to mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS by adopting policy, prevention and treatment strategies at the workplace.

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