FIFTH ANNUAL HIV/AIDS REGIONAL TESTING DAY A MAJOR SUCCESS
Tuesday 3rd July 2012
AIDS Programs Manager Delcora Williams has described the Antigua leg of the fifth annual HIV/AIDS Regional Testing Day a “major success.”
The theme for 2012, is A Healthy Lifestyle Getting To Zero New HIV infections.” More than 200 persons, on Friday accessed Free and Confidential HIV Testings at the combined Scotia Bank locations –High Street and Wood Mall. Williams, however though pleased with the turn –out, advised residents who were unable to access the Free and Confidential HIV Testings that the program will continue under the National AIDS Programs from Monday to Thursdays at the AIDS Secretariat within the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation, Consumer Affairs and Local Government.
“It is critical for everyone to know your status, and the only way to do so is to get tested,” Williams said. More than six certified HIV/AIDS officials from the Ministry of Health were assigned to conduct the free and confidential testings.
Several officials at the Ministry of Health demonstrated their leadership principles through the accessing of free and confidential testings at Scotia Bank. Senator Malaka Parker, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation, Consumer Affairs and Local Government was among the officials who were tested publicly.
Last year, Minister of Health Willmoth Daniel was among the officials that accessed testings publicly. Senator Parker thanked the Non –government Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) for their partnership with government on this critical nation building exercise.
Among the organizations disseminating and sharing experiences and information were Medical Benefits, Substance Abuse Division, the Directorate of Gender Affairs, Frank B Armstrong, Antigua and Barbuda HIV Network, Health Hope HIV, AUA, PAHO, CN HIV/SIDA, Ministry of Health and Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance.
Hundreds of condoms were distributed, and demonstration of correct usage were conducted throughout the vicinity of the two Scotiabank locations. Acting Country Manager Scotiabank Antigua & Barbuda Gordon Juilen said, today’s involvement is a strong symbol of the financial institution’s commitment that testing for HIV and AIDS should neither be feared nor shunned.
Statistics from the AIDS Secretariat have shown that in Antigua, 107 persons were tested in 2008, the pilot year, with this number increasing to 232 in 2010. In 2011, for the first time testing was done in Barbuda under the Regional Testing Day banner and the number of persons tested in Antigua and Barbuda almost doubled to 427, with 71 persons tested in Barbuda. In 2012, forty eight persons were tested in Barbuda.
The Regional HIV Testing Day was conceived by the Caribbean Broadcasting Media Partnership with media mounting a month-long campaign; the exemplary support from the private-sector in Scotiabank offering its locations as some of the testing sites; and the delivery of the technical expertise of voluntary counseling and testing by the public sector through Ministries and Departments of Health, mobilized by PANCAP.