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Friday, January 13, 2006 

Health ministry urges Jamaicans to buy subsidised antiretroviral drugs
Observer Reporter

Friday, January 13, 2006

THE Ministry of Health is encouraging people living with HIV/AIDS to take advantage of free and subsidised antiretroviral drugs available in the public health sector.

"We are inviting PLWHA (people living with HIV/AIDS) to come in and access the drugs. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. You can now live long and happy even with the disease," urged Dr Kevin Harvey of the National HIV/AIDS/STI Programme.

He told JIS News that since the drugs became available in the public sector in October last year, some 1,500 people have so far benefited.

"We now have a comprehensive HIV management team of doctors, the drugs are available and counselling sessions are in place, so persons should come in and make use of these services," he said.

Jamaicans can access a triple combination of drugs for a month for a maximum cost of $1,000. The same drugs are available in the private sector at a cost of $5,000.

The subsidised drugs are available at 15 clinics and sites across the island and people can call the ministry of health at 967-1100 for further information.

Meanwhile, people who cannot afford to pay, can access the drugs free of cost, once they meet certain stipulated criteria."We have social workers who carry out social assessments on the patients to verify whether they can or cannot afford the drugs. If they cannot afford the drugs, they are then provided with a National Health Fund (NHF) card, on which there is a co-pay feature, which will allow the clinic or centre to know whether such a person is to get the drugs for free," Dr Harvey explained.

The majority of the patients, who access the drugs in the public sector, do so free of cost.

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