Ministry of Health
Some $9 million (US$ 100,000) has been allocated for the programme this year, which is being funded by the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and managed by the National AIDS Committee (NAC) in collaboration with the National HIV/STI Programme.
Director of Treatment Care and Support with the National HIV/STI Programme, Dr. Debbie Carrington, speaking at the launch held on Wednesday (May 12) at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, said that the initiative "is a tremendous opportunity for all persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS."
She informed that a number of persons were missing clinic appointments and antiretroviral treatment because of lack of bus fare to go to the clinics or lack of food to take with the medication.
The project, she said, would improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy, by facilitating the establishment of reliable sources of income for beneficiaries and also improve their standard of living. "It will provide for some form of empowerment, self- sustenance and independence," Dr. Carrington pointed out..
Under the initiative, any person or group of persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS can access grants for small scale business projects, or skills training/certification.
More than 150 persons are targeted to benefit per year and grant awards will not exceed $60,000 per individual applicant; $250,000 for groups of two to three persons; and $400,000 for four or more persons.
The programme will be implemented at the parish level through the NAC's 13 parish AIDS associations.
Meanwhile, Rosemarie Stone, who has been infected with HIV for almost 20 years, told JIS News that she was happy that the programme had come on stream.
"It is a good thing to have this hope in the form of the income generating programme. It is designed to help people adhere to taking their medicine because sometimes, it is very difficult to do that when we do not have food to eat.so the programme is really a good thing," she stated.
The NAC was established in 1988 by the Ministry of Health to co-ordinate the national multi-sectoral response to the AIDS epidemic in Jamaica.