The authorities are urging persons who tested positive for HIV this year in Western Jamaica to come forward for treatment.
With more than 4,000 HIV tests conducted by Jamaica Aids Support For Life, JASL, in Western Jamaica, 40 persons returned reactive (result showing HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection) and the agency is calling on those affected to come in for treatment.
Tyrone Ellis, Western Regional Programmes Manager of JASL, explained that 80 percent of those found to be reactive have complied with the requirements for treatment, while the other 20 percent are not coming forward.
He further indicated that of the 40 persons found to be reactive this year, 80 percent (32) are on treatment, while they continue to reach out to the other 20 percent (8) who have avoided coming in for laboratory confirmation and subsequent treatment.
“We are still reaching out to those who have failed to come in for laboratory tests and confirmation with the hope that they will come and receive treatment. There is a list that we work with and we continue to make contact with and to encourage them, so it is a process with everything so we just have to give people time,” Ellis indicated.
He said 200 persons were tested last Wednesday in Sam Sharpe Square as part of the activities to mark World AIDS week, with four persons returning reactive results.
Mr. Ellis further explained what reactive means:
“The results would have shown that they have the HIV, however, because this was a kit test, we would have to take these persons into the laboratory for confirmation.” On confirmation, they will be further counselled and receive the requisite treatment.
Mr. Ellis indicated that 117 persons are being treated at its centre in Montego Bay, and the centre was happy to see a high viral suppression rate.
“So, this year, we are seeing a viral suppression rate of 35 percent among those persons being treated which is a good sign and over 90 percent of the clients are on medication.”
The Western Regional Office offers three clinic sessions for the week: Tuesday morning and evening, Thursday Clinic and every other Saturday Clinic.
In Jamaica,it is estimated that 32,000 persons are living with HIV and as many as 50% are unaware of their status.
The parish of St. James has the highest cumulative rate of 2094.6 HIV cases per 100,000 persons.