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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 26, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 32
HIV/AIDS Stigma in Caribbean Is Obstacle to Prevention, Treatment

Stigma about HIV/AIDS, even among health care providers, prevents many people in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean who might be helped by prevention and treatment measures from getting tested for the disease and seeking care.

Pfizer Foundation has awarded JHPIEGO a $125,000 grant to partner with the Jamaica Ministry of Health and nongovernmental organizations to develop tools targeted at frontline health care workers to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. The award will also be used to train nurses and other health care workers in the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections.

JHPIEGO, which focuses on improving the health of women and children, trains and supports health care providers in limited resource settings throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

The Caribbean has the second highest prevalence of HIV in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, and Jamaica is particularly hard-hit. An estimated 18,000 Jamaicans of reproductive age (90 percent of total HIV cases) are infected with HIV/AIDS, according to a 2001 UNAIDS report. JHPIEGO has been working with the Ministry of Health since 2001 to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica by developing a national network of providers trained in HIV testing and counseling.

Under the Pfizer award, JHPIEGO will add to its scope of services in the country in partnership with the Ministry of Health by enhancing efforts to improve the quality of services by nurses and other providers working directly with HIV/AIDS patients. It will conduct opportunistic infection and infection prevention training as well as feedback sessions on data collected from client satisfaction surveys and health provider surveys on stigma and discrimination and quality of care, and it will suggest a process for decreasing stigma and discrimination by health care providers. Further, trained observers will assess services at one public hospital, and JHPIEGO will work with NGOs to document the quality of current services and any decrease in stigma and discrimination by providers attending the training. The intervention process will also provide NGOs with data necessary for advocacy regarding stigma and discrimination.


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