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Free HIV Testing

Free HIV testing will be available for all Cayman Islands residents during HIV Testing Week 2014 from Monday, 23 to Saturday, 28 June 2014.

The Health Services Authority (HSA), the Cayman AIDS Foundation (CAF) and the Cayman Islands Red Cross have joined forces to organise HIV Testing Week. This observance will promote awareness of HIV prevention through media appearances. In addition organisers have planned free HIV testing and voluntary counseling across the Islands, by trained and experienced personnel.

The week’s activity coincides with international HIV testing days around the world under the continued theme “Take the Test, Take Control”. The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) along with the Caribbean Broadcasting Media Partnership (CBMP) will be promoting Regional HIV Testing Day (27 June), while the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) will be commemorating National HIV Testing Day in the United States (NHTD).

With the Caribbean region having the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, second only to Sub Saharan Africa, Caribbean and Latin American governments are taking critical measures to control the epidemic. “These include new targets and benchmarks for expanding HIV testing and treatment by 2020 in an effort to reduce new HIV infections, late diagnosis and AIDS-related deaths, as well as to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV,” said Dr. Kumar, Medical Officer of Health.

This is the outcome of the recently concluded Latin America and Caribbean Forum on the HIV continuum of care, and is in keeping with the Joint United Nations Programmes on AIDS (UNAIDS) and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) 2020 treatment cascade targets for the two regions. These targets include increasing to 90% the proportion of people living with HIV who know their diagnosis, increasing to 90% the proportion of people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment and increasing to 90% the proportion of people on HIV treatment who have an undetectable viral load.

“Since the first case in 1985, thus far one hundred and nineteen persons in the Cayman Islands were diagnosed with HIV of whom sixty-eight developed AIDS and forty-two of them have died. Seventeen persons are currently living abroad. Thus, there are sixty persons with HIV living in the Cayman Islands,“ Dr. Kumar added.

Adding to this, Nurse Laura Elniski, HIV /AIDS Coordinator said, “The 90-90-90 target is a huge task and can only be collectively achieved in the region through community involvement and by each sexually active person (with reason) taking responsibility for their own health. In this sense, by taking the test you can know your HIV status and take control.” She further added that by diagnosing HIV and starting treatment earlier, healthcare providers can dramatically improve patients’ health outcomes and prevent transmission of the disease.

Minister of Health, Honorable Osbourne Bodden, in throwing his support behind HIV testing week is urging residents to take advantage of this worthwhile opportunity. “I support and applaud the work of the Health Services Authority, CAF and the C.I. Red Cross in their efforts to make HIV testing accessible and at no cost to the individual. It is better to be in the know, than not. The stigma needs to be removed from this disease and proper care and preventative measures taken.”

Special arrangements have been implemented to facilitate speed and confidentiality for HIV testing activities during the week. No appointment is necessary during this period, and the waiting time for testing is usually no more than ten minutes. Persons seeking testing or counselling only need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV screening.

The results will be available in three working days. The results will be given to the patient only, who must return to clinic where the test was taken to receive the results. Those who have taken the test outside of the clinics will be advised on how to get the results at the time of testing (collecting blood).

Schedule:

George Town General Practice Clinic - June 23 - 27 from 9am - 1pm

Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac - June 23 - 27 from 9am - 1pm

Little Cayman Clinic - June 23 - 27 - appointments only

West Bay Health Centre - June 23, 24, 26, 27 - 9am - 1pm

Bodden Town Health Centre - June 23 - 27 from 9am - 1pm

East End Health Centre - June 23 & 26 - 9am - 1pm

North Side Health Centre - June 24 & 27 - 9am - 1pm

Cayman AIDS Foundation Office

(The Village)Plaza - June 23 & 25 - 5pm - 7pm

Cayman Islands Red Cross - Thomas Russell Way - June 24 & 26 - 5pm - 7pm

Cost U Less Shopping Centre - 28 June - 10am - 2pm