HIV/AIDS testing message still very important

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 25, 2010 (SKNIS): Knowing one’s HIV status continues to be a key message of the National AIDS Secretariat, as one means of reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Over the years, the National Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (NACHA) and its implementing organ the National AIDS Secretariat, aided by its private sector partners, have undertaken various activities to educate the general public on the value of getting tested. Training has been put in place for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Providers, as well as Provider Initiated Testing & Counselling (PITC). National VCT Day, which is an HIV Testing Day that usually takes place during the month of December in Independence Square, has become a fixture of the annual National AIDS Campaign activities.

National AIDS Coordinator Gardenia Destang-Richardson emphasized the need for persons to know their HIV status.

“The cliché – Early Detection is the Best Detection – holds true,” Mrs. Richardson said. “Whether a person is negative or positive, armed with this knowledge, they are better able to put provisions in place. They can either be better able to maintain their negative status or live long, healthy and productive lives with an HIV positive status. To end, we invite everyone in the Old Road and surrounding communities to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The first Community Testing Day for 2010 takes place at the Old Road Community Centre on Thursday, March 25, 2010 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. As customary, the tests will be done by qualified VCT Providers, who provide advice before and after testing.

Mrs. Richardson noted that LIME is to be commended for continuously partnering with the AIDS Secretariat in its activities. LIME is once again supporting the Community Testing Day by providing a $10.00 LIME Top Up, free of cost, when individuals return for the test results. Initial results will be provided the same afternoon. Attractions include a male condom placement competition, which can be entered by both male and females. There will also be female condom and dental dam demonstrations. Giveaways include promotional items such as key chains along with HIV/AIDS information.

As mentioned by the National AIDS Coordinator, there are certain provisions in place for persons who have an HIV positive result. They have access to a social worker, patient advocate, nutrition counselor and general medical practitioner, who is also the clinical care coordinator. Should medication be necessary, it is provided free of cost by the Ministry of Health.

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