Jamaica reiterates its commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS

Rudyard Spencer

Jamaica has acknowledged the considerable investment that the international community, led by the United Nations, has made in the fight against HIV and AIDS for many decades.

And, Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer told a high-level meeting on reviewing the progress made in combating the epidemic over the past 30 years that this global support has allowed countries, such as Jamaica, to make a difference in the lives of many persons who are infected with HIV and AIDS.

He said Jamaica has made noteworthy progress.

TAPE: There is an 18 percent decline in the number of persons who reported with advanced HIV and AIDS cases in 2009 compared to the previous year. AIDS deaths have also declined significantly moving from 665 in 2004 to 378 in 2009. Paediatric AIDS deaths also declined by 19 percent moving from 32 cases in 2008 to 26 cases in 2009. The expansion of HIV testing in the public sector has resulted in coverage for about 84 % of pregnant women and 98% of babies delivered in the public sector. Early testing has resulted in timely provision of antiretroviral treatment leading to reduced mother-to-child transmission which now stands at less than 5 percent. Despite these advances, Jamaica faces challenges relating to inadequate human resources to effectively scale up testing, treatment and support services.

NAR: Health Minister Spencer said the current tight fiscal space, which is not unique to Jamaica, undermines the government's commitment to advance in any significant way – effective HIV and AIDS strategies. He said Jamaica will need the continued consistent support of the donor community, not just to maintain the gains made, but to make great leaps forward in the achievement of various international targets relating to HIV and AIDS. He said the Government of Jamaica reiterates its commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS. He said the country has given its commitment that that symbolic gesture will be supported by practical interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination and to increase access to testing, treatment, care and support.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’30″

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