Urgent appeal to aid persons suffering from HIV
An appeal was thrown out to Jamaicans on the weekend for them to reach out to someone they know who might be suffering from distress caused by HIV.
During a church service ahead of World AIDS Day, which is commemorated on December 1, chairperson at the National Family Planning Board, Dr Dana Dixon, urged citizens, especially Christians, not to turn their backs on persons living with HIV.
"Jesus may be disguised in the person who is HIV-positive. We rely on persons like you in the faith-based community to teach persons the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have come a far way and we cannot turn our backs. I challenge you all to reach out to someone living with HIV, whether it be a family member, neighbour, brother or sister. Reach out to someone who may be suffering emotional distress, and finding it difficult to stay on treatment. As Christians, you have a responsibility," said Dixon during the service held at St Luke's Church, St Andrew.
DO NOT KNOW
She highlighted that the task has been difficult in reaching some of the groups most at risk of contracting HIV.
"In Jamaica, we have an estimated 29,000 persons living with HIV. The frightening thing is that roughly half of the people in Jamaica who are HIV-positive do not know. You may have people in your family who are HIV-positive and do not know, but thanks to the Ministry of Health, its agencies and civil society, through outreach, we've been able to have persons become aware of their status," Dixon stated.
"Combating HIV has been a difficult task, especially in terms of reaching the most at-risk population. Young persons are unfortunately vulnerable. New HIV infections in the age group of 15-29 continue to rise as a result of an early sexual debut, risky sexual behaviour, lower rates of consistent condom use, and the non-adherence to retroviral treatment. Combating HIV has also been made difficult because of stigma and discrimination, which form undeniable barriers to access treatment and care of persons living with HIV."
The hosting of the service was in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Jamaican Network of Seropositives and the National Family Planning Board.