JASL opens pharmacy to better serve people living with HIV
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life Executive Director KandasiLevermore (left), Jamaica representative for United States Agencyfor International Development Jason Fraser, and state ministerin the Ministry of Health and Wellness Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn cutthe ribbon to officially open JASL's Life's Work Pharmacy at theorganisation's Kingston location yesterday. (Photos: Karl Mclarty)

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) yesterday opened its pharmacy, indicating that it will help eliminate the fear of discrimination among people living with HIV who try to access medication.

Named Life's Work Pharmacy, it is located at the organisation's Kingston office and will also facilitate people in need of other medication.

“It is a full pharmacy and we accept all health cards. I would encourage everyone to come and support us because we are hoping that whatever we are able to earn from the pharmacy will go back and support the efforts of our organisation,” JASL's Executive Director Kandasi Levermore told the Jamaica Observer after the opening ceremony.

Levermore noted that the aim was to create a one-stop place for HIV clients.

“One of the challenges we had is that our clients would get the medical services, lab services, psychosocial services here, but they wouldn't be able to get the prescription filled. So it is very important for us, because now the clients will leave with their antiretroviral drugs. So this closes that gap for us fully,” she said.

Levermore noted that clients would usually raise the issue about the absence of a pharmacy at JASL, especially since they felt uncomfortable picking up their medications at other drug stores.

“It was a very sore point for them. They complained about the wait time and the fact that they have to open their lives to a whole lot of persons to get the drugs. They are so elated about the pharmacy, [and] they can't believe because they will literally exit the doctor's office and go straight into the pharmacy,” she said, noting that it will be open from Mondays to Saturdays.

Some of the medication available at the pharmacy include antiretroviral drugs, antibiotics, treatment for opportunistic infections, and over-the-counter medication such as vitamins.

Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL Executive Director Kandasi Levermore (second left) discusses the the benefits of havign a pharmacy to cater to the medical needs of HIV patients with (from left) Dr Alisha Robb-Allen, acting senior medical officer in the HIV/STI/TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Wellness; Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, state minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr Rebekah Hoilett Duncan, director of the treatment, care and support component of the HIV/STI Unit at the Ministry of Health and Wellness; and Jason Fraser, Jamaica representative for United States Agency for International Development. Occasion was the official opening of JASL's Life's Work Pharmacy at the organisation's Kingston location yesterday.
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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