JIS News

Efforts to secure sustained interventions in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin American and the Caribbean have been bolstered with Governments agreeing to intensify, widen co-operation and develop greater capacity in tackling the pandemic.
This was the word from Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, at a media briefing at the Ritz Carlton Resort and Spa in Montego Bay St. James, on Saturday (June 6), at the conclusion of the 2009 Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) annual Ministerial Review on HIV and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He said that coming out of the two-day conference, Governments in the region have pledged to increase their investments in providing access to health care for persons infected and affected with the dreaded HIV/AIDS virus, which is seen as the greatest challenge to development.
The Minister stated that one of the important things to come out of the conference was the consensus that the education sector must now be integrated in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“There is now a greater understanding that the greatest drug is information and that the sector of the country that is responsible for providing that drug is the education sector. I believe that more information means that our citizens will make more informed decisions, and that an informed decision-making process would ultimately lead to the prevention of HIV and AIDS,” he argued.
He cited the ‘Health and family life education curriculum’ which many countries in the region have started to implement within their school systems, noting that in Jamaica’s case, almost 35 per cent of schools have adopted the curriculum. “I have seen where we have had significant impact on the behaviour and choices of our young people and we recommend (it),” he stated.
Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Edward Greene, in the meantime, said that in tackling HIV and AIDS in the region, “one of the issues that we have to confront deals with the legislation and the regulations that we have in the Caribbean and Latin America, which are somewhat outdated.”
“I think what we have to do now, as a group of educators and health practitioners, is to sit with the Attorneys General and to come up with some policy as to the way forward,” Dr. Greene stated.
He also pointed to the need to reduce discrimination associated with the disease so that vulnerable groups, including men, who have sex with men, can come forward for early testing.

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