Prime Minister Bruce Golding has emphasized that despite Jamaica’s success in the fight against HIV/AIDS, there is no room for complacency. He expressed appreciation to the Global Fund, noting that without this financial support, Jamaica could see a reversal in the downward trends in the spread of the disease.
Mr. Golding said there is an estimated 50,000 Jamaicans with the disease, but a matter of particular concern, is that half of this number of persons do not know they are infected as they have not taken the trouble to get tested. Mr. Golding was speaking on Wednesday December 1 at the Commemoration of World Aids Day at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Cabinet.
Mr. Golding said he was particularly interested in obtaining the data of persons under age 16 who are infected with the disease, noting that it is common knowledge that young people are becoming sexually active at an increasingly lower age.
Jamaica House observes World Aids Day, December 1. Preparing to launch the commemoration of world aids day is Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Onika Miller, (l). At centre HIV/AIDS advocate Rosemarie Stone chats with Cabinet Secretary Douglas Saunders. The day was observed under the theme ‘It’s your right…claim it’.
‘I’ve always felt we should start making our young people aware at a sufficiently early age so that whatever time they become sexually active we can instill in them, the kind of sensible behaviour that will perhaps carry them through life. Our educational professionals must have the capability of how to structure that instruction so it does not come across as something legitimizing immorality’, Mr. Golding said.
Country Representative of the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organization, Dr Ernest Pate, noted that although Jamaica was doing better than many countries in controlling the disease, there is still need to look at issues of human rights, how to reduce the stigma and discrimination so people can have greater access to care. Dr Pate called for the integration of the care for HIV in routine health care delivery and greater support from the private sector, which he said has a corporate responsibility. He has challenged the sector to make that support tangible.
Dr. Pate said there is also need for advocacy both at the national and community levels to see what can be done to prevent getting the disease. PAHO/WHO he said, remains committed to working with the government of Jamaica in achieving universal access.
HIV/AIDS Advocate, Rosemarie Stone disclosed that a training programme is soon to be completed to sensitize persons to participate in a workplace programme that will help enhance the effectiveness of the quality of the national AIDS response.