JIS News

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded National HIV/AIDS Programme, which is designed to implement initiatives to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, has been extended to 2009.
Health Minister John Junor and USAID Mission Director, Karen Turner, signed the relevant documents at a function held yesterday (Sept. 7) on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), to recognize the achievements of the programme, which was implemented in 2001 and ended last year.
The full monetary and technical details of the new agreement are to be finalized over the next two days, when government, education and donor partners meet to discuss the intricacies of the extended programme.
In her remarks at the signing, Miss Turner noted that the extension was a result of the clear achievements and powerful impact of the 2001 to 2004 programme, which included a continued downward trend in the prevalence of syphilis based on the critical role of contact investigators; the development of a stigma and discrimination campaign for the workplace; expansion of outreach through priority locations for AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) and the training of over 900 Voluntary Testing (VCT) counsellors islandwide. “The results are indeed impressive,” she said.
Even with the successes, Miss Turner has pointed to the need for much more to be done in order to effectively fight the pandemic. “There is much more that we can and will do. Too much of the population is still at risk especially the young people of Jamaica”, she stated.
The Mission Director further informed, that USAID would be employing a “robust” multisectoral approach in its efforts to assist the Ministry to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS in Jamaica.
For his part, the Health Minister hailed the support of USAID and pointed to a decline in the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in the first quarter of 2005, as a testament to its success.
He said the Ministry fully endorsed the USAID’s multisectoral approach to the new programme, noting the value of private sector support to the success of projects implemented by Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS). He mentioned companies such as Alcoa, “which broke the dismal period of non support with a $1 million contribution to the JAS and we now have the Gleaner Company, which has been a tower of strength in dealing with this disease, and there is now the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) and the Private Sector of Jamaica (PSOJ) on board”.
In her remarks, Valerie Marshall, Programme Administrator for the National HIV/AIDS Programme, called for the fight against the disease to be viewed as a developmental issue. “We must not view the fight against the disease as just a health issue,” she urged.
Among the objectives of the extended programme are: to improve community-based services for the most at risk populations; reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination; and to increase the use of strategic information to enhance the management and implementation of HIV/AIDS policies and programmes.

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