Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Jamaica's HIV/AIDS fight gets $490 million boost

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 2:07 PM
State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness (left), Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, and United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia bump elbows following the signing of a multi-million cooperation agreement on health. The ceremony was held on October 1, 2020 – Contributed photo

Jamaica has received over $490 million from the United States government to help boost the country's HIV/AIDS response and to help tackle other public health concerns including non-communicable diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funding was allocated by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The cooperative agreement signing took place this morning at a ceremony that was attended by local health officials, US Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, and director of the CDC Caribbean regional office, Varough Deyde. 

With an estimated 32,600 persons living with HIV in Jamaica, State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, said the partnership is a crucial one at this time. 

“This agreement will focus on supporting strategies for the national HIV response under three programmatic areas and these are prevention, care and treatment, strategic information and laboratory strengthening,” she explained. 

She said the country will have to intensify its efforts to treat HIV/AIDS in order to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target by 2020 and subsequently the 95-95-95 target by 2030.

The 90-90-90 target is aimed at ensuring that 90 per cent of people living with HIV will know their status, 90 per cent of people diagnosed will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy and 90 per cent of those receiving anti- retroviral therapy will have viral suppression by the end of this year.  

The project proposal was drafted and submitted to the CDC in June of this year and already, $140 million has been awarded. 

Tapia noted that the US government has already invested US$85 billion in the global HIV response, saving over 18 million lives and accelerating progress towards controlling the global HIV/AIDS epidemic in over 50 countries. 

“While we continue our work with [the] HIV/AIDS response, we acknowledge that we are responding to a global pandemic, COVID-19, as well as other threats of [non] communicable disease here in Jamaica,” he said.  

Deyde noted that the agreement covers HIV, global health security, and non-communicable diseases.

“This cooperative agreement will prioritise the challenges that have been hindering the HIV epidemic control in Jamaica,” he said.  

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