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KINGSTON — Some 275 delegates from 21 countries will converge at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay from August 21 to 26 for the International HIV Management Conference.

The six-day meeting, which is being held in Jamaica for the first time, will bring together three important fora: the 8th Caribbean Cytometry & Analytical Society (CCAS) HIV/AIDS Workshop; the Jamaica National HIV/STI Programme’s 8th Annual HIV Management Workshop; and the CCAS and Caribbean Medical Laboratory Foundation’s (CMLF) Collaborative Meeting under the theme ‘Harmonizing Quality Clinical Care and Laboratory Diagnostics on Behalf of Persons Most at Risk of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean’.

The conference presentations will span the entire gamut of HIV/AIDS management and will include deliveries from experts from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, United Kingdom (UK); National HIV Immunology Laboratory in Ottawa, Canada; Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Center for Disease Control, United States (US); University Hospital of the West Indies and National Public Health Laboratory, Jamaica, as well as other regional and local experts.

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on August 17, Local Conference Host and Director of Immunology at the National Laboratory Services, Dr. Michelle Hamilton, informed that the conference is aimed at improving the quality of care and the management of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and is targeted at doctors, medical technologists, social workers, pharmacists, representatives from the National HIV Programme, laboratories, clinics and general support services.

She said the meetings and workshops to be held will provide an integrated training environment covering all aspects of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis, diagnostics, treatment and care.

“We want all Jamaicans to understand that there is a real fight going on behalf of every single Jamaican to help to minimize the effects that can be associated with HIV/AIDS, and to help to keep our population free from HIV/AIDS as much as possible,” Dr. Hamilton stated.

The conference, she noted, presents the opportunity for international integration in the fight against HIV/AIDS with participation from several Caribbean states and territories as well as countries further afield such as South Africa.

“We are hoping to strengthen laboratory capacity in the region and will do this through accreditation programmes and presentations during the conference, which will deal with how to accredit our laboratories so that we are recognised internationally. There will also be mentorship programmes by some of our international speakers, who will be working for the first time with our local presenters from the Caribbean region, with a view to mentoring (them) so that in the future, we can take over not just in regional presentations and conferences, but we hope that like Bolt, go to the world,” she said.

She informed that the conference is not open to the public but the various groups and entities that will attend the sessions will disseminate the information garnered within their health divisions and regions.

Activities will commence on Sunday, August 21 with an opening ceremony beginning at 6:00 p.m. The CCAS Distinguished Lecture will be delivered by guest speaker, Director of the Public Health Agency Ternyata Limited in London, Dr. Elizabeth Pisani.

The 1st Caribbean International HIV/AIDS workshop was held in 2004 under the auspices of the Government of Barbados, in response to the need to build regional capacity in laboratory diagnostics for HIV. To date, more than 800 persons have been trained through these workshops from 23 Caribbean countries.

 

By KADIAN BROWN, JIS PR Officer