JIS News

The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), in collaboration with the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has launched a one year programme entitled, ‘Education and Economic Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities – Responding to HIV and AIDS’.
The project, which is a public education programme that will commemorate both World AIDS Day (December 1) and World Disabilities Day (December 3), seeks to establish a creative approach to sensitizing members of the disabled community on matters of HIV and AIDS.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Director of the Council, Ransford Wright said that the aim of the programme, “is to ensure that persons with disabilities are fully aware and alert and also empowered to know that HIV/AIDS is a disease that is real and anyone of us can be affected.”
Mr. Wright added that persons with disabilities were like other persons and as such would engage in sexual activities.
Citing statistics relating to HIV/AIDS among the disabled community, Mr. Wright said that it was very limited but the Council was aware of persons who had contracted the HIV/AIDS virus. “Some have died and some are still with us,” he said.
The Executive Director explained that during the course of the programme, key rings, T-shirts with the message ‘Check yourself before you wreck your life’; condoms and brochures in Braille would be distributed. This, he said, was part of the creative approach the Council would be taking to sensitize the public.
Mr. Wright informed that the Council has not yet received funding for the income generating aspect of the programme, and he was appealing to all organizations to come on board. “We are still hoping that other persons will come on board during the year. If we get additional funding, I’m sure we will be able to see tangible results at the end of the year,” he said.
“The UNAIDS will also lobby for us to get assistance regarding funding and once UNAIDS has that fund, we will see how best those funds can be utilized or distributed among persons with disabilities who have HIV/AIDS,” he added.
Disability Awareness Week commenced on December 2 and will continue until December 7 under the theme: ‘Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities’. Activities for the week will involve a treat for children with disabilities, a health fair, a conference on sports for persons with disabilities and a domino competition.
The disabled community constitutes one of the most vulnerable groups in Jamaica. Data from the Statistical Institute show that of the 200,000 persons living with a disability in the country, less than one per cent is gainfully employed.