World AIDS Day December 1, 2015
On the Fast track to end AIDS --- Getting to ZeroTuesday 1 December 2015, marks the 26th anniversary of World AIDS Day. First observed in 1988, World AIDS Day (WAD) has served to raise awareness about the epidemic, honour those who have died, focus attention on issues that are key to a successful response and inspire positive action.This year’s WAD theme directs overall efforts on ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and focuses attention on fast tracking to end the AIDS Epidemic in keeping with the theme getting to Zero.Currently, some 36.9 million people around the world live with HIV/AIDS; 17.1 million people don’t know they are infected with the virus and need to be reached with HIV testing services; and around 22 million do not have access to HIV treatment, including 1.8 million children - this makes World AIDS Day one of the most recognized international health days. Now, after more than three decades in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, the global community has been witnessing steady signs in possibly breaking the AIDS epidemic. This according to the UNAIDS annual World AIDS Day Report, On the Fast-Track to end AIDS by 2030: Focus on location and population released Tuesday, 24 November 2015.While HIV continues to be a major public health issue having claimed more than 36 million lives so far UNAIDS is reporting that 15 million people are accessing lifesaving treatment and new HIV infections have been reduced by 35% since the year 2000 with AIDS related deaths also seeing a reduction as much as 42% since the peak of 2004. The world is halting and reversing the spread of HIV according to the UNAIDS report and has been forced into decline. “These global statistics are encouraging at best,” noted Nurse Laura Elniski, HIV coordinator at the Health Services Authority (HSA).“These findings would therefore strongly suggest that we are indeed on the fast track to end the Global AIDS epidemic as this year’s focus suggests. Ending the Global AIDS epidemic is one crucial part of the sustainable Development Goals (#3 – Good health and wellbeing) - of a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030,” she added.As part of this year’s local World AIDS Day observance, the HAS’s Public Health Department, the Cayman AIDS Foundation (CAF) and the Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC) have partnered to organize six days of free HIV/AIDS testing. These activities will be held throughout the week ending Friday, 4 December. Free counselling is also on offer during this time.Special arrangements have been implemented to facilitate speed and confidentiality for HIV testing activities during the week’s observance. People seeking testing or counselling need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV screening.As waiting time for testing is usually no more than 10 minutes, there is no appointment necessary during this week.Patients must return to the clinic where the test was taken in order to retrieve their results. Results will be made available in three working days and only the patient is able to retrieve their results.As a reminder to the public, free HIV screening is offered year round each Tuesday at the Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC) at 10.00 a.m. “Thus far it appears to be working well as it provides those wishing to get tested a second location in the community, increasing access to HIV testing sites,” said CIRC Deputy Director, Carolina Ferreira.For more information about HIV Testing Week, contact HIV/AIDS Coordinator Laura Elniski at 244-2507 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Health Promotion Officer, Therese Prehay at 244-2632 or email@example.com .