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More youth having multiple sex partners, study finds

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More youth having multiple sex partners, study finds

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 10, 2019

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Health authorities are concerned that, despite interventions to change risky behaviours and stem the HIV infection rate, research has shown that more people in the 15-24 age group are having multiple sex partners, with the numbers rising from 58 per cent in 2012 to 65.3 per cent in 2017.

The findings have emerged in the latest Knowledge Attitude Behaviour Practice Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health among 2,000 randomly selected individuals in the 15-49 age group between August and October 2017, and involved 2,818 households.

Only 58 per cent of those with multiple partners used condoms during their last encounter at the time of the survey, and 21 per cent reported never using a condom in their last 10 sexual encounters. Over 63 per cent of those were males. Furthermore, the researchers found that just 60 per cent reported having done an HIV test in the 12 months leading up to the survey.

Speaking at the dissemination launch of the survey at Eden Gardens in St Andrew yesterday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said another key finding is that the knowledge of how HIV is transmitted had declined, as only 33 per cent of respondents were able to identify 100 per cent condom-use and sticking to one faithful partner as ways of preventing infection.

The ministry is particularly concerned about the persistence of stigma and discrimination, which has hampered progress in the diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV in Jamaica.

Dr Tufton lamented that stigma has been a significant hindrance to the country getting closer to the 90-90-90 target set by UNAIDS in 2014 to diagnose 90 per cent of HIV-positive individuals; provide antiretroviral therapy for 90 per cent of those diagnosed; and achieve viral suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.

“The survey revealed that accepting attitudes to persons with HIV not only remained low, but declined significantly in 2017 versus 2012. While we have made some progress in terms of the deadlines set by the UN, it’s going to be difficult to achieve those targets, it’s an admission that we have to come to terms with,” he said, but stressed that this is not an indication of failure.

“Rather, it is motivation for us to redouble our efforts to ensure that we take this issue on frontally, talk more about it, sensitise more, in getting stigma removed from our psyche as a people,” he said.

Noting that the country was lagging behind the UN targets related to stigma and discrimination, Dr Tufton said that public health is an ongoing progress in which the society has to confront and overcome current mindsets.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer on the uphill battle with stigma and HIV, the health minister explained that, “It’s a combination of things… part of it is because of perception and belief about how the virus is transmitted, and that’s a strong issue. The other is the fear of association — guilty by association type of thing. The stigma is big; we have to get people to understand that it’s an illness that we have made much progress on in terms of treatment and control. In days gone by, HIV would be a death sentence; people are [now] living 30 and 40 years with HIV, but they have to take their medication. On the prevention side we have to get people to understand responsible behaviour, and we have to get the general population to appreciate that people are normal people who are unfortunately affected.”

He said that it is for this reason that the ministry continues to reiterate and refresh its awareness and education campaign on HIV, using a multi-agency approach, and including the education sector, as the school-age population does, to a large extent, engage in sexual activities.

There are 32,000 people living with HIV in Jamaica. In 2016 there were 1,700 new infections and 1,300 AIDS-related deaths. The survey informs the ministry’s HIV/AIDS intervention programme by identifying gaps and successes and gauging the impact of the programme.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Take a child home this Christmas

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Take a child home this Christmas

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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THE Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is now accepting applications from Jamaicans for its ‘Take a Child Home for the Holiday’ initiative.

The annual programme provides an opportunity for families to open their homes to wards of the State during the festive season. It caters to children three to 18 years old who do not have parents or guardians to take them home during the holiday period.

Speaking with JIS News, public relations and communications manager at the CPFSA, Rochelle Dixon, said the agency recognises that children placed in a family environment produce better outcomes.

Initially, the ‘Take a Child Home for the Holiday’ programme was created for parents who have children in State care to take them home for the festive season.

However, over time, the programme was extended to individuals with good moral standing.

For the 2018 festive season, parents/guardians or other family members taking children home for the holidays totalled 182, while 154 applications from members of the public were approved.

Some 355 children were placed and from this amount 19 were foster- care prospects.

Dixon explained that people who qualify for the programme have the option of hosting a child for a day or during a holiday period.

Individuaols who are interested in participating in the programme are required to fill out an application form.

They are also required to provide two references from a police officer, a justice of the peace or a school principal; provide two passport-sized photographs, a valid identification card and must be 25 years or older.

The approval is granted based on the applicant’s ability to fulfil the criteria outlined, and in some cases approval is at the discretion of the children’s officer. The application may take up to 20 days to be processed.

For further information, interested individuals may visit any of the CPFSA regional offices, formerly the Child Development Agency (CDA), across the island.

The deadline for submission of application is Friday, November 29.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Entries invited for child protection mascot competition

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Entries invited for child protection mascot competition

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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THE Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is inviting entries for its child protection mascot design and name competition.

The competition, titled ‘ProtekWiPickneyDem’, is being rolled out at primary-level institutions islandwide and is targeted at children between ages seven and 12.

Public relations and communications manager at the CPFSA, Rochelle Dixon told JIS News that the aim of the competition is to galvanise children to design a child-friendly character that they can relate to, while learning about child abuse and protection.

The mascot will make special appearances at schools on a quarterly basis and will be used, along with a jingle created in 2018, as part of the child-protection programme.

Dixon said participants will have a chance to win attractive prizes, including a tablet, book vouchers and gift baskets, along with accolades of having designed the CPFSA’s mascot.

The school that the winner attends will receive a smart television.

Children wishing to participate can download the competition rules and guidelines from the CPFSA’s website at http://childprotection.gov.jm/ mascotdesign.

Entries should be e-mailed to prunit@ childprotection.gov.jm or dropped off at any of the CPFSA parish offices no later than Friday, November 29.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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MPs’ call for more pay gets public sympathy

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MPs’ call for more pay gets public sympathy

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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A number of Jamaicans surveyed in the capital city yesterday have given conditional agreement to the call by some Members of Parliament (MPs) that they deserve more pay.

The Jamaica Observer sought the opinion of the public following this week’s Sunday Observer lead story in which several MPs lamented that their monthly salary of approximately $300,000 cannot suffice, as they have to use the money to support their families and help their constituents.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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