MONTEGO BAY — The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), through its 'Tek it to dem' Programme, has been making significant strides in reaching out to homeless persons who are living with HIV/AIDS in Kingston and St. Andrew.
“The aim of this programme is to provide a co-ordinated treatment and prevention approach, with emphasis on substance abusers and those tested positive with HIV/AIDS,” Co-ordinator for the ‘Tek it to dem’ Programme, Collette Browne has said.
In an interview with JIS News on August 23, at the International HIV Management Conference, underway at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, Mrs. Brown pointed out that some 300 persons are targeted in Kingston and St. Andrew.
“Through rehabilitation, we try to reintegrate them into society as responsible citizens. We want to retrain their minds and that is where we want to go with this project. It is our dream eventually, and we hope to expand it islandwide once we acquire funding,” she added.
The Co-ordinator said the programme, which is in its third year, has not only impacted positively on the lives of those within the target group, but also persons who assist in the programme at the NCDA.
“First, we help them to learn to accept their disease, then we give them hope and thirdly we take them in to care,” Mrs. Browne told JIS News, pointing out that the programme, as dubbed, ‘Tek it to dem’, is about taking care to the individuals or taking the individuals to care.
Focusing on other achievements of the programme to date, she informed that some 22,000 condoms were distributed this year, compared to a total of 7,000 last year. Substance abusers are now going in to treatment, persons have been placed in shelters and persons have been re-united with their families.
“We do not have the resources to do everything, so we have to partner with organisations on this project. What we want to do now is to get a comprehensive care cycle for these clients and we want to start with assessment then stabilisation, treatment and then we want to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them,” she said, stressing the need for continuous funding for the project.
She expressed gratitude to the many organisations that have partnered with the NCDA on the programme, including the Ministry of Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Global Fund.
“Homelessness is everybody’s business and if everybody, especially corporate Jamaica, play their part, then we can solve this chronic problem of homelessness,” Mrs. Browne said.
Approximately 275 delegates representing 21 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America are participating in the six-day conference, which began on Sunday, August 21.
The event is being held under the theme: ‘Harmonising Quality Clinical Care and Laboratory Diagnostics on Behalf of Persons Most at Risk of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean’.
By ALDEEN CAMPBELL, JIS Reporter