Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer
Prime Minister Bruce Golding (left) shakes the hand of Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who represented the Opposition, after both men signed the Commitment in Action - Advocacy document at the World AIDS Day 2007 Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS leadership breakfast at the Terra Nova Hotel, St. Andrew, yesterday. Standing in the back (from left) are Professor Peter Figueroa, chief of epidemiology and AIDS; Phil Green, chairperson of the Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS and Miriam Maluwa, U.N. country representative for Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced that the Global Fund grant which covers the cost of HIV/AIDS programmes, including antiretroviral drugs for persons living with the virus, will continue over the next five years.
Speaking yesterday at the World AIDS Day Leadership Breakfast, held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel on Waterloo Road in St. Andrew, Mr. Golding said Jamaica's proposal to the Global Fund for a new grant had been accepted.
The Prime Minister's announcement comes as nations around the globe celebrate World AIDS Day today.
The new Global Fund grant will take effect in 2008, providing US$44 million (J$3.1 billion) to carry out HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes over the period.
Through the Global Fund grant, persons living with HIV/AIDS can receive antiretroviral drugs free of cost through an arrangement with the National Health Fund.
Prime Minister Golding, however, expressed concern that, over the next five years, Jamaica will require US$200 million (J$14.2 billion) to deal with HIV initiatives and programmes.
He said the Government could only provide one-third of that amount. Mr. Golding said that, as important as the fight against HIV/AIDS is, it joins a list of priorities, such as crime and education.
Private sector urged to help
He called on the private sector to contribute more to the HIV causes and said the Government would have to find other sources to cover the expenses.
This comes amid reports that, yearly, approximately 1,000 Jamaicans test positive for the virus.
Dr. Peter Figueroa, chief of epidemiology and AIDS at the Ministry of Health and Environment, told reporters recently that the country's HIV/AIDS prevention programme needs to be stepped up so fewer persons become infected with HIV.
Over the last 15 years, surveys have found that approximately 75 per cent and 65 per cent of men and women, respectively, used a condom on their last sexual encounter with a non-regular partner.
"So a significant section of the population, including young persons, do 'wrap it up', or use a condom when they are having sex," Dr. Figueroa said. "But we also know that there is a significant minority, maybe one in four, who are having sex with a non-regular partner and not using a condom."
Further reports have, however, revealed that the treatment for HIV/AIDS has reduced the number of persons dying from the virus.
During the leadership breakfast held yesterday, eight companies signed a memorandum of understanding to indicate a commitment to implementing HIV/AIDS programmes within the workplace.