Adolescent Health and Empowerment

Talkup Yout' School Tours


HIV/AIDS and Young People in Jamaica

© UNICEF Jamaica 2005; Noorani
Members of the Safer Sex/Party Intervention Crew of the Ministry of Health promote condom use and safer sex in their outreach activities, particularly aimed at young people, outside of a popular Kingston night club

An estimated 1.5 percent of Jamaica’s population is living with HIV. The main mode of transmission is through heterosexual sexual intercourse. Adolescents are a high risk group for HIV infection as almost 10 percent of all reported AIDS cases are among young people under age 19 years of age. Young girls are more at risk than young boys because of intergenerational and transactional sex.

Jamaica’s current HIV/AIDS/STI National Strategic Plan 2002-2006 identified a number of behavioural, economic and socio-cultural factors driving the spread of the epidemic in the island. These include: 

 Multiple sexual partners 

 Early sexual activity

 Inconsistent condom use

Incosistency between knowledge and behaviour re HIV prevention 

Slow economic growth, unemployment and the growing economic importance of drugs and prostitution.

Discrimination and stigmatisation around HIV/AIDS 

Gender roles and inequities including the “sugar daddy” phenomenon, and demands on boys to prove their ‘manhood’.

 Inadequate attention to HIV in the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum.

The Ministry of Health leads the national response to HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. The National AIDS Committee plays an advisory role to the Ministry, guiding an expanded response, and Parish AIDS Committees provide a community based response to the needs of persons infected and affected by AIDS. Services and support for persons living with HIV/AIDS are also provided by non-governmental organisations. UNICEF’s programme of cooperation in HIV/AIDS supports the realization of the national objectives of the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS and is coordinated within the work of the UN family in Jamaica, through the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS. It further benefits from the technical and advocacy support from the recently-established UNAIDS Country Coordinator’s Office in Jamaica

The current Government of Jamaica/UNICEF Country Programme has adopted an integrated approach aimed at strengthening national, community and family capacities to prevent HIV/AIDS infection and to care for children and adolescents affected by the epidemic.

In Jamaica, UNICEF has provided technical and financial assistance to support the dissemination and implementation of the National Policy for HIV/AIDS Management in Schools. A policy booklet and posters to educate stakeholders have been produced.

UNICEF has supported the development of non-traditional materials by partners to increase access to information about HIV/AIDS. These materials include a resource package providing sexual and reproductive health information for young people with disabilities, and the production of a CD on HIV/AIDS prevention “Protect Prepare” and a music video to be used as a teaching tool, by the group Artistes Against AIDS.

The Development of HIV/AIDS and life skills education and the training of over 800 adolescents as peer educators was supported by UNICEF Jamaica. Support was also given for the production of pamphlets, posters and best practice guides.

UNICEF provided support for conducting a Rapid Assessment of Orphans and Children made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS (OVC) in Jamaica and for the development of a National Plan of Action for OVC and pamphlets on OVC. UNICEF has also funded a number of activities under the National Plan of Action for OVC. 

The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme has received UNICEF support through the development of a PMTCT protocol for health personnel and IEC material - public service announcements and educational posters. UNICEF supported the training of health workers under the programme, as well as research examining PMTCT client adherence to anti-retroviral treatment.





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