Gov't urges persons living with HIV to take medication
A social-marketing campaign has officially been launched by the Ministry of Health to encourage persons living with the human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) to take their medication and to continue to do so for life.
The campaign, which has been dubbed, 'Test and Start: Get on yu meds and get on wid life', goes further to encourage persons to get tested for HIV in order to know their status and, if confirmed positive, to commence antiretroviral treatment.
A method of prevention
Director of Health Services Planning and Integration in the ministry, Dr Simone Spence, said that the test-and-start recommendation and, by extension, the campaign, were based on current scientific evidence from clinical trials and observational studies.
"It demonstrates that initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) earlier results in better clinical outcomes in persons living with HIV versus delay in treatment," she said, at the launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on August 10.
"Treatment as a method of prevention is another benefit of these new guidelines. As more PLHIVs are virally suppressed, the risk of transmission ... decreases. Testing is, therefore, a critical tool in the management and treatment of this disease," she continued.
Citing data from the United States-based Centers for Disease Control, Spence informed that persons who use ART can be kept healthy for many years.
"Antiretroviral medications lower HIV in the blood, reduces HIV-related illnesses and reduces the spread of HIV to others," she noted.
Meanwhile, Acting Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Sara Buchanan, said that the campaign will change lives.
She said that through it, more persons will realise that HIV is no longer a "death sentence, but a manageable illness".