(SKNIS): As part of its programme for 2016, the National AIDS Secretariat in the Ministry of Health will provide “liming” hot-spots in the Federation with free condoms for distribution to patrons.
Customarily, condom distribution forms part of the community outreach activities of the National AIDS Secretariat. This year, it was decided to add hanging out areas to the distribution locations. These are places where persons gather to pass the time after a hard day of work or to socialize on a week-end.
“The secretariat does not propose to be intrusive, and we respect patrons’ right to refuse our service, perhaps preferring not to be interrupted while eating and socializing,” National AIDS Programme Coordinator, Mrs. Gardenia Destang-Richardson said. “However, should there be an interest, patrons are welcome to take advantage of being empowered by knowing their HIV status and taking control of their sexual health. It’s a case of going out to meet the people, instead of waiting for them to come. It is our responsibility to educate, provide and prevent the spread and impact of HIV and STIs [Sexually Transmitted Infections], and we take advantage of wherever we are welcomed.”
The rational of the Secretariat is to make preventative methods easily accessible as a means of protecting one’s self. Having condoms in hotspots removes the hassle of going to another location for protection when socializing, and reduces the potential to be irresponsible.
Persons going out to have a good time are reminded to do so responsibly. This would help the Federation to achieve the UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS) 90-90-90 strategy which proposes that: by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; by 2020, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Increased testing is another tier of the National AIDS Programme and the point of care rapid test is currently being offered as a Valentine’s Quickie at the National AIDS Secretariat. For a free, easy, reliable and confidential HIV test, call the Secretariat at 467-1233 or 1234 for an appointment.