Jamaica Gleaner Examines Issues Surrounding Pregnancies Among HIV-Positive Women
Although the increasing availability of antiretroviral drugs has led a growing number of HIV-positive women in Jamaica to have children, many women say that health workers in the country do not always agree with their decision to become pregnant, the Jamaica Gleaner reports. According to the Gleaner, women account for approximately 50% of HIV cases in the Caribbean. In addition, 75% of HIV-positive people in Jamaica are in their reproductive years.
Debbie Carrington, care and treatment coordinator for people living with HIV at the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Environment, said that HIV-positive women in Jamaica should not be made to feel that they do not have the right to become pregnant. According to Carrington, the ministry works to prevent unplanned pregnancies in HIV-positive women through counseling and family planning, "just as we do in those without HIV." Carrington added that when HIV-positive women become pregnant, the ministry takes steps to help women prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
However, patients do not always receive counseling and reproductive health services from public health clinics, Tina Kong -- a physician at the Comprehensive Health Clinic in Kingston, Jamaica -- said. Family planning clinics often provide information about contraception, but health workers at general clinics and sexually transmitted infection clinics may not be trained to do so, the Gleaner reports. "Contraception services in clinics are integrated in thought but not in action," Kong said. In addition, staff shortages cause health personnel to spend less time with patients, limiting the amount of information that can be provided (Jamaica Gleaner, 7/23).