Internationally, the first case of AIDS was diagnosed more than twenty years ago. In spite of extensive research, the origin of HIV has not been discovered. The spread of HIV in Jamaica is mainly through sexual contact between men and women. Additionally, about one-third of all babies born to HIV infected women are infected during pregnancy, at birth or through breast feeding unless anti-retroviral medication is given to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child.Persons infected with HIV do not immediately develop AIDS or AIDS symptoms. Most persons will remain apparently well and continue to function productively as family and community members and at the work place for several years. However, the virus gradually weakens the immune system of the affected person, leaving him or her susceptible to other infections. Conditions such as skin rashes, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fevers, swollen glands and certain types of cancers may occur. Whereas these conditions may be treated, the underlying HIV infection cannot be cured. Treatment with anti-retroviral drugs significantly improves the well being and quality of life of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), prolongs their life and allows them to work and lead a productive life.Despite the collaboration between government and non-government agencies, the work to inform, educate and support young people must become more focused and systematic. In addition to the efforts to institute strategies, there is need for extensive support for those who are infected, or affected through the loss of family, or those who live with persons with HIV/AIDS. The social concerns for children with HIV/AIDS requires timely and focused responses from educational institutions. Appropriate responses, including prevention and intervention strategies might necessitate policies to guide the management of the incidents of HIV/AIDS among students and others in the education sector.
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