Jamaica Has Seen ‘Significant Gains’ in Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Jamaican Ambassador to U.S. Says in Letter to Editor
Jamaica has seen "significant gains in confronting" the country's "formidable" HIV/AIDS epidemic and in "ensuring" that treatment and prevention programs "continue to benefit all" its residents, Jamaican Ambassador to the U.S. Gordon Shirley writes in a New York Times letter to the editor in response to a Dec. 2 Times editorial (Shirley, New York Times, 12/11). The editorial said that although the Jamaican government has begun efforts to make antiretroviral drugs more accessible to people living with HIV/AIDS, "these efforts cannot become fully effective until the government can summon the courage to attack the virulent anti-gay prejudices that are driving this epidemic by making people at risk fearful of seeking treatment." The editorial said that the government "needs to work harder" to improve the country's "public health and AIDS education efforts" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/3). Although the editorial "correctly cited" the Jamaican government's efforts to expand access to antiretroviral drugs, the Times "relied heavily on the accusation of an activist group that insinuated an anti-gay bias within Jamaica's medical system," Shirley writes. The "dedication of our doctors and other medical personnel" and the government's "innovative work" in curbing the spread of HIV has been "commended by many," including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the U.S. government, he says. Shirley concludes by noting that representatives from six countries traveled to Jamaica to observe its HIV/AIDS program in 2003 and practitioners from 11 countries this year "have come to Jamaica to learn from our experiences" (New York Times, 12/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.