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UN Cares is the United Nations system-wide programme on HIV. It is designed to reduce the impact of HIV in the workplace by supporting "universal access" to a comprehensive range of benefits for all UN personnel and their families. These benefits - known as the UN Cares 10 Minimum Standards - include information and education, voluntary counseling and testing, access to male and female condoms, and emergency prevention measures in case of accidental exposure, among others. The Standards also call for increased measures to stop stigma and discrimination[i].
On this basis, 16 UNDP staff members participated in an exciting and enriching learning session facilitated by the UN Cares Team in Jamaica[ii] supported by GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS) national personnel. The session took place on April 26, 2012 at the UNDP Country office in New Kingston. The objectives of the session were to enhance a comprehensive knowledge of HIV and the UN Cares 10 Minimum Standards as well as promoting the creation of an enabling workplace environment that reduces stigma and discrimination against staff members living with and affected by HIV and their families. UNDP Jamaica personnel enjoyed various learning activities including basic facts on HIV prevention and transmission, AIDS Jeopardy and a stigma-awareness game where survivors of a plane crash had to decide who should live and who should die. One activity which elicited much laughter was where staff members were taught to put male and female condoms on inanimate models.
The session was deemed successful and enjoyable as members of staff came away with new information and a strengthened knowledge and awareness.
In keeping with UN Cares Minimum Standards, male condoms were made available by UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) to other UN agencies and distributed to be placed in rest rooms and at the front of the UNDP office to promote safe sex practices.
(UN Cares session on HIV with UNDP Staff members. UNDP Country Office, Kingston, Jamaica. 26 April, 2012. Photo Credit: Laura Raccio/UNDP Jamaica)
UNDP and HIV/AIDS
Globally there are 34 million people living with HIV. While new HIV infections have declined by 20 percent between 2001 and 2011, the HIV epidemic continues to outpace the response.
In Jamaica, HIV is an issue of national significance. The prevalence of HIV in the country has steadily increased. In 2009, it was estimated that about 32,000 people were reported infected with the virus with a 1.7% prevalence rate among adults aged 15 to 49; while about 1,200 had died from AIDS. Even so, HIV infection and AIDS cases are considerably underreported, and the magnitude of the epidemic is not known with any precision.
HIV/AIDS remains one of the main causes of mortality in the Caribbean; it is the leading cause of death among persons from 20-59 years.
UNDP collaborates with UNAIDS and the United Nations Country Team to support integration of HIV priorities into national planning and implementation processes; strengthen governance and coordination of HIV responses; promote human rights and gender equality; and respond to HIV in at risk populations.
Our overall goal is to assist the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based policies and programmes aimed at reducing the impact of HIV in Jamaica. More>
Conservative estimates by UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) show that 1.5% of all UN personnel worldwide may be living with HIV (HIV positive); Surveys of UN staff have reported inadequate levels of knowledge about HIV and AIDS, including how to protect themselves. UN Cares Fact Sheet available on http://www.nacionesunidas.or.cr/dmdocuments/GEAV/UNcaresFactSheet8-Matters.pdf