Lessons learnt from COVID could be used to tackle HIV

3 years ago

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State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, has issued a challenge for Jamaicans to work together to safeguard the health and wellness of persons who are living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.

She shared that it is a monumental task to assure the best possible health outcomes based on the numbers.

“But, we can get it done by further deepening our collaborations and learning key lessons from our COVID-19 experience,” she said.

The State Minister was referencing Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS statistics, which indicate that approximately 700 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in 2019; approximately 4,500 or 14 per cent of persons living with HIV are unaware of their status and that just 14,297 or 44 per cent of those diagnosed are on antiretroviral treatment. She further pointed out that of those that are on treatment, just 65 per cent are virally suppressed, meaning that there is reduced function and replication of the virus.

Mrs Cuthbert-Flynn also spoke of the country’s intention to reach its 90-90-90 targets, through cooperation and collaboration. Under the 2013 UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board initiative, it is expected that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV would know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection would be receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would have viral suppression by 2020. Mrs Cuthbert-Flynn informed that Jamaica had actually achieved 84-52-65 of the targets at the end of 2019.

She pointed out that headway has been made into the country’s response to COVID-19 and that it is due in no small part to the cooperation between countries; public, private and volunteer sectors assistance, and individual action, and that the country should be able to reach its 90-90-90 targets with the same level of involvement from all parties.