USAID partners with UWI in HIV project

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THE Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies, Mona, last week launched Health Connect Jamaica (HCJ), which is seeking to revolutionise the provision of fast, private and affordable HIV services.

The HCJ is a network of private health sector clinicians, laboratories, and pharmacies working through a coordinating unit which offers HIV services to people who prefer to access them in the private sector. It its being funded by the the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

According to USAID mission director, Jason Fraser, “Analysis of the current features of the epidemic shows there are 32, 617 people living with HIV today in Jamaica. Eighty–four per cent of these people know their status, 52 per cent of those who know their status are retained on antiretroviral drugs and 65 per cent of persons on anti-retroviral therapy are virally suppressed.”

Noting that the figures show there are gaps in the approaches to prevention, care and treatment in the current model of HIV service delivery, Fraser said, “Jamaica will require alternative health care service delivery.”

Dr Tomlin Paul, dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, said the factors which led him to be a part of the initiative include the project fitting within the mission and vision of Faculty of Medical Sciences and the opportunity provided for the faculty to engage in innovative research and interventions to health care.

Principal investigator of Health Connect Jamaica, Dr Geoffery Barrow, said quantity and quality are two keys which are critical in achieving the epidemic’s control in Jamaica.

“At HCJ we estimate that we will need to provide almost twice as much HIV treatments to twice as many people living with HIV. There is not enough to expand capacity and access of HIV medicines. We also need to provide high-quality services to allow our clients to achieve and maintain maximum control of the virus,” he said.

– Brittny Hutchinson

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