KINGSTON, Jamaica — World AIDS Day 2015 is being commemorated under the theme, “Take care of the complete you: ask for a HIV test too”. This year, the Ministry of Health says it will focus on a wellness and preventative drive that will be supported by mass media as well as community mobilization, which aims to increase the number of people with HIV knowing their status. Minister of Health Horace Dalley states that, despite the significant strides that have been made over the years, stigma and discrimination continue to adversely affect HIV testing as well as access and uptake of HIV treatment services with low retention rates of antiretroviral treatment. Minister Dalley said: “This year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day provides us with the opportunity to strengthen testing strategies in order to reach people who are living with HIV but are unaware of their status, HIV is still widely stigmatised in Jamaica; hence the campaign has to be seen to be more comprehensive and not single-disease specific”. The ministry said the campaign will incorporate other preventative screening procedures and services such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer, dental, mental and family planning, along with HIV screening at selected health facilities as well strengthening and maximising the implementation of Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling in health settings to reach every patient utilising the health centres with HIV testing and linkage to care. The Health Ministry said Jamaica is among the countries charged with the ambitious goal of the fast track approach to accelerate action to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. “This requires us to aggressively review implementation gaps and systems that pose a threat to reaching the target. These include prevention, discrimination and treatment that are set to achieve the goals,” the release said.
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