Jamaica to amend law to reduce HIV/AIDS discrimination

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday December 2, 2011 – Amendments are being made to the Public Health Order to remove what could be regarded as discriminatory provisions relating to persons with HIV and AIDS.

This was disclosed yesterday by Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer during an activity to mark the international observance of World AIDS Day.

“The Ministry has completed the draft submission, which has been submitted to the relevant state entity, to fulfill the consultation requirements for legislative and/or regulatory changes,” he informed.

He noted that the amendments represent a “clear and practical demonstration of this government’s commitment to addressing stigma and discrimination against persons infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.”

The Minister acknowledged that while it will take “much more than legislative and regulatory changes to effectively reduce stigma and discrimination, government has a moral obligation to lead and to act.”

“Government has a fundamental responsibility to protect and safeguard the human rights of every single citizen of Jamaica. It is an indispensable role of Government,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Ministries of Health; Youth Sports and Culture; and the Office of the Services Commission, yesterday launched and signed their HIV/AIDS Workplace policies, aimed at addressing discrimination.

Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Olivia Grange, informed that in crafting the policy, a series of training and sensitisation sessions were held with staff across the Ministry, including its department and agencies.

She said that HIV awareness has become part of the staff orientation process and is an integral component of the women and youth engagement programmes.

 “We are mindful that the proportion of women living with HIV has remained stable at 50 per cent globally, while in the Caribbean, 53 per cent of people living with HIV and AIDS are women. We are also mindful that the reduction of the rate of new HIV infection across the world is based in part in changes in the behaviour among young people,” Grange said.

At the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV worldwide, up 17 per cent from 2001.

In the Caribbean, new HIV infections were reduced by a third from 2001 levels.

HIV incidence decreased by an estimated 25 per cent in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica since 2001, while in Haiti it has declined by about 12 per cent.

The theme of World AIDS Day was ‘Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections.  Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths’. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)