KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Health and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS, today announced the launch of World AIDS Day 2018 activities.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Know your status” celebrated on December 1.

Over the next week, partners in government, civil society and the development sector are collaborating to increase awareness about the importance of getting tested as well as to provide accessible and rapid HIV testing services.

They are also highlighting the availability of free, life-saving treatment for those living with HIV and the importance of treatment adherence for reaching and retaining viral suppression.

This 30th World AIDS Day commemoration places emphasis on HIV testing as an essential step to reaching HIV negative persons with effective prevention interventions and connecting those living with HIV to services.

“I encourage all Jamaicans to get tested. Know your status. If you are infected it is not a death sentence, you can be treated. Visit your physician, take your meds and you can live a healthy, normal life. If you are not, then protect yourself to avoid getting infected. Let us work together to conquer HIV,” said Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

Jamaica joined the community of nations in committing to end AIDS as a public health threat as part of the Sustainable Development Goal agenda.

A key element of this commitment is the 90-90-90 targets—90 per cent of people living with HIV aware of their status, 90 per cent of diagnosed people on treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment virally suppressed by 2020.

By the end of 2017 an estimated 78 per cent of people living with HIV in Jamaica were aware of their status.

Forty-six per cent of diagnosed people were on treatment and 51 per cent of those on treatment were virally suppressed in 2017.

“The country has done a good job at HIV testing. To close the gaps we must redouble our efforts to reach the one in four Jamaicans who are not aware of their HIV status. To achieve this, it is imperative that HIV testing is universal and as available as pregnancy testing. We have to rapidly scale up the use of HIV self-testing, community-based voluntary testing, index case finding and other proven testing approaches.” explained UNAIDS Country Director for Jamaica, Manoela Manova.

Source: Jamaica Observer