Jamaican Health Ministry Secures 40% of Funding for $200M Plan To Fight HIV/AIDS; Additional Funding From Private Sector Needed
The Jamaican Ministry of Health and Environment has secured 40% of the funding needed to implement a $200 million, five-year strategy to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, Kevin Harvey -- treatment, care and support coordinator at the health ministry -- said recently, the Jamaica Observer reports. The government has received a World Bank loan and a grant from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as funding from local sources, Harvey said. He added that the government is hoping the private sector will provide the remaining funds.
The plan, called HIV and AIDS in Jamaica Strategic Plan 2007-2008, aims to provide universal access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support. The components of the plan address prevention, treatment and care, the enabling environment and human rights, and empowerment and governance. The components aim to reduce the number of new HIV cases; mitigate the virus' impact; and achieve a multi-sector commitment to fight HIV/AIDS.
The treatment and care component aims to provide antiretroviral drugs and support services to all HIV-positive people in the country, Harvey said. According to Harvey, the prevention component of the plan will target people at high risk of HIV transmission, such as commercial sex workers, adolescents, prison inmates and men who have sex with men. In addition, the health ministry will partner with the Ministry of Education to increase HIV education in schools, Harvey said.
The environment and human rights component of the plan will focus on reducing HIV-associated stigma and discrimination. Harvey encouraged the development of anti-discrimination legislation and enforcement of existing legislation. The ministry will consider amending the country's Public Health Act to "make it more meaningful to provide protection and a resource for health care workers to take action in particular areas," Harvey said, adding that the plan aims to provide an "enabling environment through policy and legislation."
The stigma and discrimination component aims to reduce discrimination against MSM that "drives those most at risk of contracting HIV underground," according to the Observer. The plan also notes that homophobia hinders condom distribution in prisons. In addition, the plan addresses ways to make women less vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by increasing their ability to negotiate condom use, the Observer reports.
According to the Observer, the plan will address some of the factors fueling Jamaica's HIV epidemic, including behavioral, economic and social issues. Although Jamaica's HIV prevention efforts have been improving, risky behaviors such as having multiple sex partners, initiating sex at a young age, commercial sex work and a lack of condom use are contributing to the spread of HIV (Jamaica Observer, 6/4).