Agency urges strengthening of HIV, AIDS programmes
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) is seeking improvements in the institutional framework to provide protection and redress for key populations affected by HIV and AIDS.
A JASL team led by Policy and Advocacy Officer Patrick Lalor recently met with Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck to discuss the issues of legislative backing for HIV through the drafting of anti-discrimination laws and the provision of sexual and reproductive health-related services to children under the age of 16. Also among the items is a revisiting of the Sexual Harassment Bill as well as the JASL's submission made on the Sexual Offences and other related acts.
The group also discussed the need to incorporate into the curriculum of the Justice Training Institute content focused on vulnerable populations in order to sensitise judges on best practices when dealing with members of key groups.
Key groups affected by HIV and AIDS include orphans and vulnerable children, men who have sex with men, sex workers, women of trans experience, and other key groups of women such as those living with disabilities and lesbian and bisexual women, all of whom fall within vulnerable populations.
A review of certain provisions under one of those related acts - the Child Care and Protection Act - is also being sought to bring harmony between the policy and the law, which Lalor says currently makes it difficult for the JASL to serve minors under 16 years who turn up at its facilities for treatment without their parents.
Approximately 30,000 persons are living with HIV in Jamaica, nearly 20 per cent of whom are unaware of their status. At least 33 per cent are linked to care and treatment through the provision of antiretroviral (ARV), psychosocial, nutrition, and other support services.
The first and largest NGO offering a full-scale response to the HIV & AIDS epidemic in Jamaica, the JASL reaches more than 10,000 persons annually through HIV testing and education across three chapters in Kingston, St Ann, and St James.