Jamaica’s first reported case of AIDS was in 1982. Since then, there has been an epidemic that is finally coming to a slow halt. The main factors in Jamaica’s AIDS crisis are lack of health care and information, stigma towards people with HIV and areas in poverty.
5 Facts about Jamaica’s AIDS Crisis
- The Eve for Life NGO fights for women and children with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. Its main focuses include child intervention, counseling and mentorship. Founded in 2008, Eve of Life began due to a lack of support for women and children infected with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. The NGO assisted thousands of abuse survivors who are victims of sexual assault.
- In 2018, 40,000 people were living with HIV. HIV prevalence was 1.9 percent among adults between the ages of 15 and 49. Additionally, in Jamaica, 1,500 people died from AIDS-related illnesses. There has been a 15 percent decrease in deaths since 2010. Websites, such as unaids.org, help raise awareness to people in the efforts of fighting the disease. By 2020, 90 percent of infected people will know their HIV status, access treatment and suppress viral loads.
- The Jamaican government has addressed the AIDS crisis since 1988 when it established the National AIDs Committee (NAC). The organization provides education, counseling, legal and ethical advice and fundraising. The NAC operates under Jamaica’s Ministry of Health to coordinate the government’s response to the epidemic. It also works with donors and research teams to gain information on preventatives.
- As of 2018, 37.5 percent of the people infected in Jamaica were women. New AIDS cases are more common among males than females. Men are less likely to seek out treatment due to stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS. This is especially prevalent in Jamaica, where same-sex contact is illegal. Others often view people with HIV as dirty and those suffering from HIV may face judgment in all facets of life, including work and socially.
- Jamaica lowered the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS from over 10 percent in 2006 to 2.4 percent in 2011. This is still higher than the target, 2 percent, but the decrease in cases is due to women having more access to antiretroviral therapy. In 2014, only 1.4 percent of infants born to mothers with HIV contracted the disease. If this progress continues the elimination of mother-to-child transmission is possible by 2030.
Jamaica is on the right course toward stopping the AIDS epidemic. With increased access to education, antiretroviral therapy and health care the spread of the disease has slowed. More people than ever are aware of their HIV status and receiving treatment. If this continues, Jamaica is well on its way to an AIDS-free generation.
– Taylor Pittman