Jamaica launches new HIV/AIDS initiative

HIV/AIDS Initiative - Caribbean National Weekly News

Jamaica has launched a campaign to encourage persons living with the human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) to take their medication, and continuing to do so for the rest of their lives.


The campaign, called, ‘Test and Start: Get on yu meds and get on wid life’, is also aimed at getting persons tested for HIV, and if confirmed positive, to commence antiretroviral treatment.


Director of Health Services Planning and Integration in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Simone Spence, said the test and start recommendation and, by extension, the campaign are based on current scientific evidence from clinical trials and observational studies.


“It demonstrates that initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) earlier results in better clinical outcomes in persons living with HIV, versus delay in treatment,” she said.


Campaign will change lives


The Acting Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sara Buchanan, said the campaign would change lives. Through the campaign it’s expected more persons will realize that HIV is no longer a “death sentence but a manageable illness.”


Health ministry lauded


Buchanan lauded the health ministry for initiating the campaign. She informed that as part of the campaign, new staff was hired and the capacity assessment of regional testing sites was undertaken, among other things.


Country Director for the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Jamaica, Manoela Manova, said she was elated Jamaica has initiated the campaign, which, she indicated, required a great deal of planning, resources and courage.


“This proves that Jamaica is a strong regional leader, and Jamaica is one of the first countries to have initiated the 90-90- 90 (treatment target),” she said.


Jamaica has an estimated 30,000 persons living with HIV or 1. 7 per cent of the adult population.