Community urged to take up free HIV test

| 23/06/2011

(CNS): The Cayman public is being encouraged to take advantage of free HIV testing next week during the Health Services Authority (HSA), the Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Red Cross local campaign. This year HIV Testing week runs from Monday, 27 June to Friday, 1 July and coincides with international HIV testing days around the world. All efforts are geared towards supporting people to voluntarily seek HIV testing and counselling with this year’s theme being Take the Test,  Take Control – Be > than AIDS.  The campaigns encourage all to play their part in halting the HIV/ AIDS epidemic by being aware of one’s HIV status and to practice safe sex.

Health minister Mark Scotland asked residents to take the test, know their status, and take control. “Even after 30 years of education and prevention efforts, HIV continues to be a critical issue throughout the world; one of which we are not exempt,” Scotland stated. “Fortunately, we can do something: Get tested for HIV; practice safe sex; talk about HIV with family, friends and colleagues, support people living with HIV and AIDS and get involved with the National HIV Testing Week in your community”.

He said knowing your status can make a difference.

“Some people who have HIV are not even aware of it. But those individuals who do know are living longer, better quality lives due to the treatments they receive.  Knowing your status means taking control and being responsible for your own health.”

HSA HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Pauline Ffrench echoed the importance of minimizing the risk and stopping the spread of HIV. “In principle, everyone who is old enough for sexual activity is at risk for becoming infected with HIV. The best way to reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV is to avoid risk taking behaviours that give the virus a chance to spread from someone else to you. The main behaviour changeshould be to prevent all unsafe sexual practices and engage in faithful relationships,” she added.

Free HIV testing will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at all district health centres on Grand Cayman, at the George Town General Practice Clinic, Public Health Clinic , Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac, and the Little Cayman Clinic by appointment.

The testing procedure involves a quick and simple blood test. No appointment is necessary at the larger clinics and the waiting time for testing is usually no more than ten minutes. Persons who are seeking testing or counselling need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV screening.

The results will be available in three working days and will be given to the patient only, who must return to the clinic where the test was taken to get the results. This is to protect the confidentiality of the individual and to offer counselling.

For more information about HIV testing week, Contact HIV AIDS programme coordinator Pauline Ffrench at 244- 2631 or Laura Whitefield at 244 2507.

Category: Health

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