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).
A schedule of free HIV testing sites is given below:
HIV TESTING WEEK
June 23-28, 2014
|George Town General Practice
|(345) 244 2507||Monday through Friday||23rd -27th June||9am-1pm|
|Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac||(345) 948 2243||Monday through Friday||23rd -27th June||9am-1pm|
|Little Cayman Clinic||(345) 948 0072||Monday through Friday||23rd -27th June||Schedule an appointment.|
|West Bay Health Centre||(345) 949 3439||Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday||23, 24, 26, 27th June||9am-1pm|
|Bodden Town Health Centre||(345) 947 3145||Monday through Friday||23rd -27th June||9am-1pm|
|East End Health Centre||(345) 947 7440||Monday and Thursday||23rd and 26th June||9am-1pm|
|North Side Health Centre||(345) 947 9525||Tuesday and Friday||24th and 27th June||9am-1pm|
|Cayman AIDS Foundation Office
|(345) 946 3029||Monday
|23rd and 25th June||5-7pm|
|Cayman Islands Red Cross – Thomas Russell Way||(345) 916 1742||Tuesday Thursday||24th and 26th June||5-7pm|
|Cost U Less Shopping Centre)||(345) 244 2507||Saturday||28th June||10am-2pm|
For more information about HIV Testing Week, contact Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
l. Facts about HIV and HIV Testing
What is HIV
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS.
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, diarrhea, skin and chest infections. If not
treated, the person would rapidly deteriorate resulting in death.
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
• Blood transfusion from an infected person
Remember, you can’t tell by looking if someone has HIV.
How to Protect against HIV:
- Not having sex is the safest way.
- Having a sexual relationship with only one uninfected person, who is having sex with only you.
- Using a condom for high risk behavior.
- NOT sharing any kind of needles.
What is HIV Testing?
- The HIV test looks for antibodies in a person’s blood. When HIV (which is a virus) enters a person’s body, special chemicals are produced. These are called antibodies. Antibodies are the body’s response to an infection.
What does HIV testing involve?
- A small sample of blood will be taken from your arm, sent to a laboratory and tested for antibodies. The test is always strictly confidential.
What is a positive HIV test?
- HIV positive means that antibodies to HIV were detected. It means that the person is infected with HIV. (Except in infants of HIV-positive mothers, who may retain her antibodies for some months).
What is a negative HIV Test?
- HIV negative means that antibodies to HIV were not detected. In almost all cases this means the person is not infected with HIV. Most people develop the antibodies within three months of infection. In rare cases it can take up to six months. It is good for the test to be repeated three months later and even at six months after exposure, just to be extra sure.
- The time between infection and the development of antibodies is called the window period. In the window period people infected with HIV have no antibodies in their blood that can be detected by an HIV test. The test is only accurate if there are no other exposures between the time of possible exposure to HIV and testing.
Source: Cayman Islands Public Health Department.
ll. Cayman Islands HIV/AIDS Data (please click here for pdf document).