Aids testing urged for all Jamaicans

KINGSTON, Jamaica – With more than 20,000 Jamaicans infected with HIV/AIDS, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson is urging persons to get tested in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

He made the call during his World AIDS Day message. World AIDS Day is being observed today and is being held under the theme: ‘Stop AIDS: make the promise, get tested’.

“Let us make a promise to get tested for HIV/AIDS and, irrespective of the result of the test, to make a promise to our friends and families to protect them from the disease,” he urged.

“We must make a promise to reject those values that have hurt the people we love, affect the growth and development of the country and result in sickness and the death of many Jamaicans,” he added.

Health Minister John Junor said about 15,000 persons are unaware that they are HIV-positive. He said when people are aware of their HIV-positive status, they can better manage their health.

According to Mr. Patterson, national data showing that married women are among the highest risk groups to contract HIV/AIDS, indicate the sexual behaviour of too many husbands is exposing women to a “dangerous and deadly disease and their families to poverty, anguish and pain.”

Jamaica, which has been an active participant in the observance of World AIDS Day since it was declared in 1988, is working to draw attention to this year’s theme through an increased public education campaign. The campaign included the staging of its annual National World AIDS Day Commemorative Exhibition and Concert set for Emancipation Park yesterday.