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World AIDS Day 2009

This year's World AIDS Day theme is Universal Access and Human Rights, and the Cayman Islands will once again join the global community in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, particularly the need to support those who live with the disease.

"Since 1988 the face and response to AIDS has greatly changed. While many of these changes are positive, this anniversary offers us an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done," said STI/AIDS Programme Coordinator Pauline Ffrench

Valuable progress has been made in increasing access to HIV/AIDS services, yet greater commitment is needed around the world if the goal of universal access is to be achieved. Treatment and care is vital to quality of life and must be available and accessible to all people living with HIV/AIDS, she added.

Public health officials are also urging people to take responsibility for their own health by getting tested regularly.

"Knowing your HIV-status plays a key role in lowering the incidence of the disease, said Nurse Ffrench.

This year's World AIDS Day also focuses on protect sufferers' human rights: "By promoting individual human rights people who have HIV can live free from stigma and discrimination. This in turn will help to prevent new infections by allowing marginalized groups such as drug users and commercial sex workers access to education and treatment, Nurse Ffrench stated.

"And so, World AIDS Day provides and opportunity for all of us - individuals, communities and political leaders - to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support are met," she concluded.

World AIDS Day began in 1988 when health ministers from around the world met and agreed on the concept of the day as an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of fighting AIDS, as well as showing true solidarity for the cause.

Sidebar: World AIDS Day Activities

" Free HIV screening Monday, 30 - Friday, 4 December, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at all district health centres in Grand Cayman including the George Town General Practice Clinic and Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac. Persons in Little Cayman may call the clinic at 948 0072 to make arrangements for these tests. People who want to be tested and/or counselled need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV/AIDS screening. Results take three working days, and it will be given to the patient only, who must return to clinic where the test was taken to receive the results.

" Candle Light Vigil on Tuesday, 1 December, 6 p.m. at the Emslie Memorial Church in George Town. The walk will begin from the Cayman Islands Hospital to the church. Contact Margaret Michaud (Cayman AIDS Foundation) at 924-7877 for more details.

Source: Public Health Department

For the official Cayman Islands Government web portal, www.gov.ky

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver