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Kingston among top cities of people living with HIV

NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Dec. 2, 2014: Kingston, Jamaica has made the UNAIDS list of ten cities worldwide where a very high proportion of people live with the dreaded HIV virus.

Kingston is the only Caribbean city to make the UNAIDS top ten list of HIV populated cities released yesterday, World AIDS Day. Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina round out the others in the Americas list in ‘The Cities Report.’

According to UNAIDS, there are 19,494 living with the HIV virus in Kingston or 64 percent of all the people with HIV in the country. Overall there are 30,000 people with the virus in Jamaica. Yet, Kingston has 10 out of 21 treatment sites in Jamaica and plays an essential role in treating and caring for people with HIV, the report said.

In Kingston, the majority of people newly diagnosed with HIV have an HIV-related illness or disease, indicating late diagnosis. According to Ministry of Health estimates, in 2013, HIV prevalence among the homeless and people who inject drugs was at 4 percent and among prison inmates was at 9 percent. Data for female sex workers and men who have sex with men is incomplete but it is estimated to stand at 4 percent and 32 percent respectively.

In Buenos Aires, a country with a HIV population of 83,322 people, there are 35, 745 people living with HIV in the city while there are 29, 609 in Lima and 13, 939 in Santiago.

Researchers warn in the report that “cities will struggle to control their AIDS epidemics as long as these populations are marginalized from the benefits of city life.” They recommend using a Fast-Track AIDS response, cities can improve social equality for people affected by HIV and those living with the disease, while also addressing related public health challenges in new and innovative ways to prevent disease.