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HIV/AIDS became an issue in Jamaica
in 1982 when its first case was reported. Currently,
approximately 1.5 % of Jamaica's adult population
live with HIV/AIDS. This represents about 22,000 people.
The numbers continue to increase island
wide, with the parishes of St. James and Kingston
and St. Andrew, being the most seriously affected.
The disease is the second leading cause of death for
children in the 1-4 age group.
The National HIV/AIDS/STI Control Programme,
which falls under the Ministry of Health is working
to curb the epidemic. The National Programme's priorities
Providing access to prevention
Care, treatment and support for
persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
Policy, advocacy, legal and human
rights for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS
Monitoring, surveillance and evaluation
to track the success of our efforts to control
Advocating for a strong multi-sectoral
response to the epidemic
The National Programme facilitates the
co-operation of the public and private sectors, as
well as non-government organizations (NGOs) in the
fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition to the Government
of Jamaica's input, the programme has the support
of international funding agencies such as UNAIDS,
German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA), United Nations Global Programme
on AIDS, PAHO/WHO, CAREC, UNFPA, and UNESCO. Most
recently the national programme received a loan from
the World Bank (IBRD), and a grant from the Global
Fund to fight AIDS, Tubercolosis and Malaria.
The programme's approach emphasises
community intervention and face-to face communication
to increase awareness, reduce individual risk of HIV
infection and reduce stigmatisation of persons living
with HIV/AIDS and to promote safer sex practices.
Through this approach, the National Programme has
achieved a significant degree of success, particularly
a high level of awareness and decline in the rates
of Syphilis and other STIs. Increased condom availability
and use also confirm the impact of the programme.
One of its greatest challenges, however, is to have
the population translate their awareness of safer
sex into sustained behaviour change.