The Cayman Islands joins the global community in the observance of World AIDS Day Wednesday, 1 December.
This international designated day draws together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is one of the most visible opportunities for public and private sector partnership to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
Globally there are 33 million people living with HIV and more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
This year's World AIDS Day theme is universal access and human rights and the campaign will also focus on keeping the light on HIV and human rights.
UNAIDS is encouraging countries to dim lights on key landmarks to remember the devastating affect AIDS has on us all and to turn them back on to illuminate the fundamental human rights we all share but are often denied for people living with HIV /AIDS.
Locally, the Health Services Authority will highlight the theme through the following activities:
- Free HIV testing from 29 November to 3 December from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at all district health care centres in Grand Cayman and at Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac. Little Cayman residents can call the clinic at 948- 0072 to make an appointment. This test is confidential and can be done without giving your name. People are therefore encouraged to take this opportunity to know their HIV status.
- A Candlelight Vigil on 1 December at the Emslie Memorial Church, Fort Street, George Town at 6 p.m. The walk will begin from Heroes Square at 5:30 p.m. to the church. Free T-shirts for everyone who join in the walk.
- Educational sessions and awareness table at John Gray High School, Clifton Hunter High School and UCCI on 1 December.
For more information on HIV testing and other activities please contact HIV/AIDS coordinator designate Laura Whitfield at 244-2631or Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632.
Answers to HIV/AIDS Questions
What is HIV?
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS;
- You can have HIV and not know it.
What is AIDS?
- AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
- HIV positive persons may develop AIDS, the disease when the body's immune system is depleted. Symptoms include weight loss, diarrhoea, skin and chest infections. If not treated, the person would rapidly deteriorate resulting in death.
Do we have HIV in Cayman?
- Yes. Since the first case of AIDS in Cayman in 1985, there has been 95 HIV infections, 50 persons have developed AIDS and 35 have died as of September 2010
- Since the first case of AIDS in1981, about 60 million people have been infected with HIV; 25 million deaths occurred globally due to HIV/AIDS and approx 33.4 million are currently living with HIV.
How is HIV transmitted?
- By having sex with someone who has HIV. Your sex partner can have HIV and not know it.
- By sharing needles with someone who has HIV.
- A mother who has HIV can pass it on to her baby before it's born, during birth, or while breastfeeding.
- Blood transfusion from an infected person
You CANNOT become infected with HIV from:
- Social contact
- Shaking hands
Remember that you are only at risk of contracting HIV if you are in contact with an infected person's semen, vaginal fluids, or blood.
What is being done in Cayman to prevent HIV transmission?
- All blood donors, and every individual unit of blood is tested. Both donating blood and receiving blood through a transfusion is extremely safe in Cayman.
- All pregnant women are tested for HIV. If a pregnant woman is HIV positive, medication is available to help prevent transmission to the unborn baby.
- Health care workers use disposable syringes and needles, which are only used once.
- Prevention education is conducted regularly in the community, including schools.
- Public Health has devised a Workplace HIV Programme which focuses on prevention.
What you can do to prevent HIV
- Not having sex is the safest.
- Have a sexual relationship with only one, uninfected person, who is only having sex with you;
- Use a condom for high risk sexual behaviour;
- Don't share any kind of needles.
Supporting those infected with HIV
- If someone you know becomes infected with HIV, remember that your support and friendship are more important than ever before
- It is not necessary to avoid everyday social contact, including hugging, with HIV infected persons. Hugging, kissing, and touching are safe.
- HIV infected persons do not need pity; they simply need to be treated exactly the same way they have always been treated.
If you think you may have HIV, or at high risk (multiple partners), get a HIV test. The test is safe and private. You do not have to give your name if you do not want to. You can make an appointment for confidential testing at:
- The Public Health Clinic 244 2648;
- George Town General Practice 244 2800;
- Any district health care centre; or you may also have HIV testing with a private doctor.
Source: Public Health Department