AIDS Programme Manager Delcora Williams has described the Antigua leg of the fifth annual HIV/AIDS Regional Testing Day as a “major success.”
The theme for 2012 is A Healthy Lifestyle Getting To Zero New HIV infections.”
More than 200 people, on Friday accessed free and confidential HIV testing at Scotia Bank‘s High Street and Wood Mall locations. Williams, however, though pleased with the turnout, advised residents who were unable to access the service that the programme would continue under the National AIDS Programme from Monday to Thursdays at the AIDS Secretariat within the Ministry of Health.
“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 tests.
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. Senator Parker thanked the (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) for their partnership with government on this critical nation building exercise.
Hundreds of condoms were also distributed, and demonstration of correct usage was conducted.
Acting Country Manager of Scotiabank Antigua & Barbuda Gordon Juilen said, the initiative is a strong symbol of the financial institution’s commitment that testing for HIV and AIDS should neither be feared nor shunned.
Among the organizations disseminating and sharing experiences and information were Medical Benefits, Substance Abuse Division, the Directorate of Gender Affairs, Frank B Armstrong, Antigua & Barbuda HIV Network, Health Hope HIV, AUA, PAHO, CN HIV/SIDA, Ministry of Health and Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance.