Month: November 2008

MOHE to Release Latest HIV/AIDS Statistics for Jamaica

The National HIV/STI Control Programme in the Ministry of Health and Environment will tomorrow (November 27) release the latest HIV/AIDS statistics for Jamaica in a World AIDS Day Press Briefing scheduled for the Ministry’s Head Office in Kingston.

Based on a report compiled by the National HIV/STI Programme in the Ministry there is a marked decrease of 30% in the number of new AIDS cases in 2007 when compared to the previous year. Data also reveals that the number of AIDS related deaths has decreased.

Dr. Kevin Harvey Senior Medical Officer for the National HIV/STI Programme pointed out that the reduction was largely attributed to the introduction of public access to antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) since 2004. According to him there are still a large number of persons that need to be on ARVs but cannot be reached because they have not done an HIV test and therefore do not know their status. It is estimated that there are 6500 people in need of antiretroviral treatment and only approximately 4736 are receiving treatment.

The 2007 HIV/AIDS Epidemic update also indicates that 73% of all AIDS cases in 2007 are in the 20-49 year old age group with the most urbanized parishes continuously having the highest cumulative number of AIDS cases. “The high incidence of infections among this age group is a clear indication of early sexual activity that may have led to HIV infection in their teenage years” Dr. Harvey said. He added that “There needs to be a more systematic approach to addressing adolescent sexuality issues and opportunities for increasing access to condoms”.

Up to June 2007 there were over 200 reported AIDS cases in the 10 -19 age group. In 2006 HIV infection had doubled in the age group 10 -24 years since 1995 with girls being three times more at risk than males in the same age group.

The latest facts and figures show that in 2007, for every one thousand pregnant women attending public antenatal clinic, at least 10 were HIV infected. In 2007 a total of 27 new paediatric AIDS case were reported compared to 73 paediatric AIDS cases in 2006. This represents a significant decrease of 63% in the number of paediatric AIDS cases.

According to Dr. Harvey the implementation of Prevention of Mother to Child transmission (PMTCT) in 2004 has resulted in HIV testing of more than 90% of pregnant women and ARV treatment or prophylaxis of 84% of HIV infected mothers in 2007. More than 90% of infants born to HIV infected women received ARV for PMTCT. In an attempt to bridge the 10% gap, HIV testing for all hospital admittances was introduced in 2007. This will capture those women who did not attend antennal clinic as well as the general population that may not have previously known their HIV status.

Dr. Harvey highlighted that in Jamaica HIV is primarily transmitted through heterosexual sexual intercourse. The main risk factors fuelling the epidemic are multiple sex partners, history of STIs, crack/cocaine use, and sex with sex workers