TPDCo’s HIV and AIDS Programme for the Tourism Sector

The HIV and AIDS epidemic presents a formidable challenge to the tourism sector as it threatens the industry’s most valuable asset, its human resources. HIV and AIDS is notably one of the most devastating diseases of the last 30 years. The economic impact of reduced productivity due to an ailing workforce cannot be taken lightly for a region where tourism is the primary source of GDP. The tourism sector is one of the largest employers of skilled workers in Jamaica. The relatively high mobility of workers in this sector can easily facilitate the spread of HIV hence every effort must be made to educate and protect the workers.
One of the most popular tourism destinations, with over 20 million visitors annually, the Caribbean records the second-highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the world. HIV and AIDS is now the leading cause of death in several countries and young people – the majority of them young women are in the high-risk group.

 Between January 1982 and December 2015, thirty-four thousand one hundred and twenty-five (34,125) cases of HIV were reported to the Ministry of Health. Of these, 9,517 (27.9%) are known to be deceased.

  • There were 1,222 newly diagnosed cases in 2015 – Males (609); 49.8%) and Females (613; 50.2%); within the age group 20 29 year-olds accounting for the largest proportion (26%) of newly diagnosed cases.
  • Most cases of HIV are associated to sexual transmission.
  • Girls and young women are at greater risk.
  • As of 2015, the sexual practice of 41% of men ever reported with HIV (and 40% of men reported with AIDS) was unknown.
  • 75% of persons between 20-49 (age group most affected).
  • HIV epidemic in Jamaica is both generalized and concentrated.
  • Estimated 7% prevalence rate of the general adult population, however higher prevalence rates are found in at-risk groups. 
  • Estimated 30,000 Jamaicans are infected with HIV in Jamaica
  • 16% of Jamaicans are unaware of their HIV status and are not accessing service
  • Men and women aged 20 to 39 account for 54 percent of reported AIDS cases in Jamaica.
  • Kingston & St. Andrew, St. James, and St. Catherine, with 50% of the Jamaican population, account for 63% in 2015 of reported HIV cases. This proportion is slightly higher than it was last year (52%), but has decreased from (70%) of cases in 2008, these parishes are three (3) most urbanized parishes and so they account for majority of cases.
  • However, despite the general decreasing trend in proportion of reported cases, the most urbanized parishes have the highest cumulative AIDS case rates: Kingston & St. Andrew (KSA)(1,033.4) cases per 100,000 persons, and St. James (1,515.2) HIV cases per 100,000 persons. In fact, KSA and St. James have cumulative case rates that exceed the national case rate (698.2 cases/100,000 population).
  • In addition to the urbanized parishes, parishes with significant tourism-based economies have the next highest level of cumulative number of reported AIDS cases since the start of the epidemic: (776.0) cases per 100,000 persons in Westmoreland; (695.6) cases per 100,000 persons in Trelawny;
  • (683.7) cases per 100,000 persons in St. Ann; and (679.7) cases per 100,000 persons in Hanover. Of note, all parishes in the Western Region are counted among those with the highest cumulative number of HIV cases.

The parishes with significant tourism based economies are ranked from 1-6 on the table.



St. James


Kingston & St. Andrew


St. Ann








St. Catherine


St. Mary




St. Thomas


St. Elizabeth






HIV and AIDS and Tourism

The cases of HIV infection continue to be high in Jamaica especially in the resort areas.
Increased tourist demand for adventure and romance is evident in the continuing trend of sexual interactions between visitors and host populations. Vacationers in a state of relaxation sometimes participate in risky activity resulting in the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Locals as well as persons engaged in transactional sex and sex workers target the industry for economic gain and it is this intermingling that may contribute and can easily facilitate the spread of HIV within communities.
The Aim of the HIV/AIDS Policy
TPDCo, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has drafted an HIV and AIDS Policy for Tourism in its bid to promote healthy tourism to safeguard Jamaicans and the industry.

The policy aims to:

  • Prevent the transmission of HIV
  • Manage and lessen the impact of HIV and AIDS on the worksites within the tourism industry
  • Provide treatment, care and support of workers in the sector infected and affected by HIV and AIDS
  • Help eliminate the stigma and discrimination towards workers living with HIV and AIDS

The policy will:

  • Set standards of acceptable behaviour for all employees concerning HIV and AIDS- related issues.
  • Establish consistency within the company and compliance with local and international laws concerning HIV and AIDS
  • Inform management and all employees where they can go for assistance and information about AIDS
  • Instruct management/supervisors on how to manage HIV and AIDS in the workplace.

Background Summary of TPDCo HIV Programme

The Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo) has been given the mandate by the Ministry of Tourism to implement an HIV and AIDS Programme for the tourism sector. This has been an on-going programme in collaboration with the National HIV/STI Programme (NHP) since 2002 and includes all areas of the HIV and AIDS response. The programme includes but is not limited to:

  • Overview of TPDCo’s HIV Programme to managers and senior executives
  • Individual HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy consultation and HIV Programme development for tourism entities.
  • Voluntary Counselling and Testing (HIV Testing) for all categories of workers within the sector at their work sites.
  • Basic HIV and AIDS Sensitization/Awareness Sessions for workers within the sector.
  • Training of Peer Educators and Trainers.
  • Referrals to various organizations offering HIV and AIDS-related services if the need arises e.g. For HIV/STI testing, treatment and counselling, etc.
  • Advice on dealing with persons infected or affected by HIV appropriately Sessions aimed at reducing HIV Related Stigma and Discrimination within the sector.
  • Tourism Sector HIV and AIDS Awareness Media Campaign with the production of two (2) DVDS entitled “WANTED” which highlights TPDCo’s HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy and “HOTEL PARADISE” which addresses HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination as well as the connection between tourism, HIV and sex within the tourism sector. Both DVDS also highlight some basic facts on HIV and AIDS and is also distributed throughout the sector as a training tool.
  • Demonstrations of male and female condoms and dental dam as well as the distribution of male and female condoms and lubricants to all categories of workers within the sector.
  •  Hosting Health Fairs, expos and other special events to highlight the HIV programme on World AIDS Day and during Safer Sex Week.

Objectives of the Programme since its Inception in 2002
Several objectives were established for the programme in 2002 to correlate with Jamaica’s HIV National Strategic plan for Jamaica set by the National HIV Programme at the Ministry of Health. The objectives for the period included:

  • Workplace intervention through the development of a Workplace Policy.
  • Participation in a pilot project for the installation of condom machines in tourism entities.
  • Awareness programmes through training of peer educators.
  • Development of training manuals for use in the train the trainer and peer educators programmes.
  • Implementation of awareness programmes throughout the tourism sector.
  • Targeting large entities for implementation of on-going awareness programmes through their HR departments as well as peer education training in their properties.
  • Training of Peer educators in tourism related operations- Accreditation of Peer Educators.
  • Develop Core of Voluntary Counsellors for Testing.

HIV and AIDS Related Sessions

  • Overview of Jamaica’s National HIV Response and Epidemiology Report (Data).
  • Session on Basic HIV and AIDS Sensitization/Awareness.
  • Sessions on:
    • Gender and HIV
    • HIV Workplace Policy
    • Sexuality Transmitted Infections (STIs)
    • HIV-Related Stigma & Discrimination and the National HIV Discrimination Reporting & Redress System (NHDRRS)
    • Sex & Sexuality and HIV Risk Reduction.

Family Planning and Counselling Sessions

  • Overview of the National Family Planning Board and NFPB’s Reproductive Health Survey.
  • Update on the Integration of the National HIV/STI Programme and the Jamaica National Family Planning Board.
  • Overview of Family Planning Methods and Family Planning Methods.

Some Major Achievements of the Tourism Sector HIV and AIDS Programme

  • Workplace interventions through the development the Tourism Sector HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy which was approved by Cabinet in March 2007 and officially launched in July 2007.
  • Peer Educator Training Workshops to train tourism workers to educate their peers about HIV, AIDS and other STIs.
  • Since 2004, 14,105 tourism sector workers have participated in Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT).
  • Commemorative activities including several live outside broadcasts have taken place during Safer Sex Week (commemorated during the week Valentine’s Day is celebrated), Regional HIV Testing Day (held the last Friday in June annually) and World AIDS Day (December 1 annually).  This also takes place with individual properties during their Health and Wellness Fairs for staff to raise awareness of the importance of testing and the impact of the virus on tourism sector workers and to highlight TPDCo’s HIV Programme for the tourism sector.
  • HIV sensitization programmes with Tourism sector workers including craft vendors, attractions and accommodation sectors, contract carriage operators, water sports operators, workers within the Ministry of Tourism  and its agencies as well as Police and Fire Department personnel.
  • Over seventy (70) Tourism entities have developed HIV and AIDS policies to date.
  • Over one thousand (1000) Basic HIV Sensitization/Awareness Sessions.
  • Over two hundred (200) Risk Assessment Interventions.
  • Production of 2 DVDs for use in sector activities :
    • Wanted: An HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy – The production of this DVD was funded by the Caribbean HIV and AIDS Alliance and focuses on the importance of having an HIV Workplace Policy and Programme in the Tourism sector.
    • Hotel Paradise – Focuses on risky sexual practices in the tourism industry and mitigating such occurrences. Production of this DVD was funded by the National HIV/STI Programme, Ministry of Health using World Bank Funds.
  • Production of several posters which have been distributed to entities throughout the sector.
  • Erection of billboards in Montego Bay and Negril promoting the programme which seeks to address HIV related stigma and discrimination within the sector.

At The Workplace

How to deal with HIV and AIDS – International Labour Organisation
The Tourism Sector HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy founded the Ten Key Principles outlined in the ILO’s Code of Practice on HIV and the World of Work (2001). It outlines the vision and strategies for the sector to combat HIV and AIDS, HIV related-stigma and discrimination, as well as the associated repercussions on the sector.   The policy was the culmination of collaborative efforts of key tourism stakeholders and provides a platform and framework from which the various tourism entities can launch their individual workplace policies.

It is important to note that The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is currently in the final stages of reviewing the Occupational Safety and Health Bill which includes Regulations governing the management of HIV in the workplace.  As part of those Regulations all entities operating in Jamaica will be required to develop and implement appropriate HIV workplace policies and programmes.
Here are 10 key principles of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which are the guiding principles of each workplace policy setup to guide employers and employees in the management of HIV and AIDS at the workplace.

  • Recognition of HIV and AIDS as a workplace issue
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Gender Equality
  • Healthy work environment
  • Social dialogue
  • Non-screening for purposes of exclusion from work or work processes
  • Confidentiality
  • Continuation of employment relationship
  • Prevention
  • Care and support

The ILO is an agency of the United Nations that promotes social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.