Fri | Nov 24, 2017

Editors' Forum | More help for disabled living with HIV/AIDS

Published:Wednesday | October 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Robyn Miller, public relations officer at Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

Disabled persons living with HIV/AIDS are set to benefit from a €200,000 grant awarded to Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) to allow it to give more support to vulnerable groups.

The grant was awarded by the European Union, and Robyn Miller, public relations officer at JASL, told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum that the money will be allocated over 18 months.

"We are going to be looking at the disabled community because they have, to some extent, been underserved. They have just not been able to access services, so the grant is welcome," said Miller.

She was supported by Davina Gayle-Williams, programme development manager at the JASL, who argued that there is far too much hassle for disabled persons living with HIV/AIDS.

"We will be pushing for sign-language interpreters at police stations and health-care centres so that when they (disabled) come to report acts of violence and sexual abuse, somebody is there to take the statements and they don't feel defeated," said Gayle-Williams.

"For persons in wheelchairs, we want them to have easy access to health-care services. We don't want any steps to go to doctor's office."

She added, "We want people to be able to understand what the members of the disabled community need and don't just give them a Panadol and tell them to go home, because they don't understand what their needs are."

In the meantime, Patrick Lalor, policy and advocacy officer at the JASL, said the non-governmental body has already started to address the needs of the disabled at its clinics across the island.

"For example, we ensure that we have interpreters at our clinics so that the deaf can properly access our services," said Lalor.