XVIII International AIDS Conference

Abstract

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I am alive! Protecting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of positive women in Jamaica

Presented by Joy Lovelet Crawford (Jamaica).

P.B. Watson, J.L. Crawford


Eve for Life, Kingston, Jamaica

Goal: Positive women able to advocate for their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Key Gaps Addressed:

  1. Limited knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights
  2. Lack of women-centred services in the public health sector for women living with HIV
  3. Violation of the sexual and reproductive health rights of positive women
Description: A series of focus group discussions show that the reproductive health rights of women living with HIV who use the public health sector in Jamaica are frequently violated. Information given to women are usually negative - ´what should not be done´. Many positive women have very little knowledge of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights issues. Some are coerced to do tubal ligation, others are told they cannot have sex or children and others are ridiculed and discriminated against.
A multi-pronged advocacy strategy was put in place which focused on empowering newly diagnosed women (0 - 5 years) by teaching them about their reproductive health and rights and basic journalism. Additionally, the women are taught advocacy skills to build their capacity to push the national HIV/STI Programme and the public health providers to develop and implement policies that address the SRH and rights of positive women.
First time positive women are being taught about SRH and rights. Aim is to ensure they have the tools to protect themselves from re-infections and their rights to sexual and reproductive health and rights are not denied. Knowledge of SRH has increased and women are more confident now to talk talk health provider.
Lessons learned: If women are given the tools to protect themselves their risk taking behaviour will be reduced Stigma and discrimination in the public health sector still high 28 years after first case diagnosed in Jamaica.
Next steps: Advocacy campaign targeting workers in the public health sector.


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