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The Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) has upgraded and expanded its HIV/AIDS programme in the parishes of Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James and Trelawny, as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
According to a Ministry Paper, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on September 11 by Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, the region’s HIV/AIDS programme was enhanced through the use of additional social work staff; continued implementation of the prevention of the mother to child transmission of HIV programme; the introduction of HIV rapid testing; voluntary counselling and testing; and behaviour change communication targeting specific groups and communities.
During the 2005/06 financial year, the WRHA partnered with Sandals Hotel to develop a workplace policy, which was later used to sensitize other members of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.
The HIV laboratory services at the Cornwall Regional Hospital were also upgraded.
As part of the move to educate persons in the western region about HIV/AIDS and other sexual transmitted infections (STIs) a ‘Healthy Lifestyles’ programme was created, which targeted schools, communities and workplace settings.
The paper further highlighted that four HIV laboratories were established for rapid testing at the Ulster Spring Health centre in Trelawny; Noel Holmes Hospital in Hanover; Catherine Hall Health Centre in St. James and Bethel Town Health Centre in Westmoreland.
In addition, the paper noted that between 1982 to March 2005, there were 433 reported cases of AIDS in Westmoreland, 219 in Hanover, 1,479 in St. James and a further 232 in Trelawny for a total of 2,363 AIDS cases in the western region.