Jamaican Initiative To Support HIV-Positive People

Armen Hareyan's picture

Jamaica's National Council on Drug Abuse is partnering with local faith-based andnongovernmental organizations to establish 10 clinics across the island thatwill support substance users, people living with HIV/AIDS, and survivors oftrauma and violence, Michael Tucker, NCDA executive director, said on Tuesdayat the launch of the program in Kingston, Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Tucker said the project, called the Community Clinic and Services for SubstanceAbusers and Family, aims to "operate a comprehensive intervention programfor children, adolescents and their families at the community level." Theprogram seeks to teach life skills to youth and parenting skills to youngparents, he said. It also aims to train NGO and faith-based group counselors tostrengthen their services, according to Tucker. The National Health Fund has provided $11.8 million to help implement the program, which isexpected to operate through 2010. About 5,000 people annually are expected tobenefit from the services, according to the Observer.

Tucker said that the "rationale for the intervention comes fromobservation of risk behaviors, as whether it is drug use, violence andaggression, sexual promiscuity and HIV, all these behaviors or most of themshare common contributing factors." Health Minister Ruddy Spencer onTuesday said the project represents a new element of the country'ssubstance-abuse strategy. He said that the link between drug abuse andhigh-risk behaviors has a significant impact on the public health system in Jamaica,adding, "It is clear that a successful substance use and abuse preventionand treatment program would have a positive impact on cross-cutting areas suchas crime, violence and HIV/AIDS." The most recent data available show thatabout 187,000 Jamaicans use various illegal drugs, but only 500 people aretreated in existing residential settings annually (Lewis, JamaicaObserver, 1/30).

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