Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Highest level of condom use among homeless - statistics

Published:Saturday | December 1, 2018 | 12:15 AM
Professor Peter Figueroa (left), public health department, University of the West Indies, in discussion with (from second left) Dr Matthew O’Connor, medical officer; Manoel Manova, country director of UNAIDS Jamaica; and Ricky Pascoe, president of Jamaican Network of Seropositives at the World AIDS Day Breakfast Forum ‘Health for All: Delivering Quality Care, Supporting Positive Living’, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.
Dr Matthew O'Connor (right) chats with human rights activist Hilary Nicholson at the World AIDS Day Breakfast Forum 'Health for All: Delivering Quality Care, Supporting Positive Living' at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, yesterday.
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The homeless are reported to have the highest level of condom use at their last sexual encounter than any other target group, standing at 67 per cent, according to Kandasi Levermore, executive director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL).

She was sharing the latest statistics about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Jamaica at the Jamaican Network of Seropositives (JN+) World AIDS Day Breakfast Forum 'Health for All: Delivering Quality Care, Supporting Positive Living' at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.

Levermore also said that at last sexual encounter, men who have sex with men (MSM) recorded 59 per cent condom use, followed by transgender women at 57 per cent.

She also revealed that HIV prevalence among transsexuals stood at 51 per cent, MSMs at 29 per cent, homeless at 14 per cent, inmates at seven per cent, and female sex workers at two per cent.

Against this backdrop, keynote speaker at the forum Dr Matthew O'Connor said that education is critical in order to reach the targets and remove the stigma associated with HIV.

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 target aims to get 90 per cent of people living with HIV diagnosed; 90 per cent of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment; and 90 per cent of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load, all by 2020.

"I want to see more work being done to change the face of HIV and to change the way people see HIV. We must become aggressive in how we get the word out. Education is the only avenue present to break down barriers and get rid of the stigma associated with the disease. If we cannot do this, we would never be able to deliver quality healthcare," O'Connor said.

He added that issues relating to HIV must be tackled on all fronts.

"Dealing with HIV, we must deal with the biological, the psychological, and the social components. Most of our emphasis must be placed on working on the psychological and social downfall, starting by changing the attitude we have towards HIV," O'Connor said.

He also noted that psychological support in dealing with HIV is fundamental.

There are an estimated 34,000 persons living with HIV in Jamaica.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com