Collaboration on best practices for HIV care will form an integral part of efforts to bolster Jamaica’s local response to the viral disease. Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. the Hon. This morning, Christopher Tufton advanced the view during a courtesy call from ‘Winnie’ Byanyima, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS.
Pointing out that national efforts to reduce HIV transmission have benefited from the local presence of UNAIDS in Jamaica, the Health and Wellness Minister lauded partnership as a critical component in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We’ve approached the HIV response in a very collaborative way. We see it as one collaborative effort among multiple partners, and that’s when we have made the best gains on our achievements,” said the Minister.
UNAIDS has played a significant role in global progress to eliminate HIV/AIDS. It charts paths for countries and communities to get on the Fast Track to ending AIDS and is a bold advocate for addressing the legal and policy barriers to the AIDS response.
“The most important learning of the AIDS response is that we can end AIDS as a public health threat, but only if we tackle the inequalities which drive it,” noted Ms Byanyima during the courtesy call held at the Ministry’s New Kingston office.
Stigma Is A Major Issue
Challenges remain despite the significant progress made in global and local efforts to rein in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Stigma is one such difficulty that prevents vulnerable groups from disclosing their HIV status and seeking care. The Health and Wellness Minister notes that this is a foremost issue in HIV care and related areas such as mental health. Overcoming it, he says, will prove pivotal in providing universal health access to marginalised peoples.
The courtesy call to the Minister of Health and Wellness precedes events to renew and strengthen local efforts to address HIV/AIDS and its associated challenges, including mother-tochild transmission, stigma and discrimination.
Among those in attendance was the Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness; Permanent Secretary, Mr Dunstan Bryan; Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr; and Dr Alisha Robb-Allen, Head of the National HIV Programme.