Jamaica on Track in Addressing HIV/AIDS Among the Disabled


Executive Director of Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, Ransford Wright, has said that while there was still much to be done, Jamaica was on the right track in terms of addressing HIV/AIDS among the disabled community.
“We are not lagging behind, but we are not where we would want to be. There is much to be done and we think that we are on the right track,” Mr. Wright told JIS News at a stakeholder dialogue on ‘Disability and HIV/AIDS’ held recently, at the offices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Kingston.
He noted that the Ministry of Health “is doing a mammoth task, and the various public servants such as the nurses, and guidance counsellors in schools. If they are given the right amount of resources that they need, we can nip HIV/AIDS in the bud.”
According to Mr. Wright, the Council has taken a collaborative approach to ensure that persons with disabilities were adequately informed about HIV/AIDS.
“The Council has, over the years, worked closely with the Ministry of Health, through the National Family Planning Board, and we aligned ourselves with Jamaica AIDS Support Service,” he informed.
“We recognise that persons with disabilities have not been integrally involved in understanding as much as possible, the whole matter of HIV/AIDS, and we want to ensure that they gain as much knowledge about the disease as possible,” he added.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), he told JIS News, has also been supportive of the Council’s programmes, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been providing the country’s disabled youngsters with public education since 2005.
“This (public education) has been going on well and the Council is integrally involved. We go across the country to conduct public education sessions and we want to continue [these] programmes,” Mr. Wright informed.
UNFPA has provided an outlet, located at 18 Ripon Road in Kingston, where persons can access contraceptives to prevent HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The aim of the dialogue was to examine the country’s progress so far as it relates to persons with disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

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