December 1 is commemorated globally as World AIDS Day, first observed in 1988, World AIDS Day (WAD) has served to raise awareness about the epidemic, commemorate those who have died, focus attention on issues that are key to a successful response, inspire positive action and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. It has become one of the most recognised international health days.
2016 marks the 28th anniversary of World AIDS Day, under the theme – “leadership, commitment, impact”. Global health officials are calling on country leaders to stay committed by actioning the promises that have been made in the fight against HIV and AIDS; encouraging leadership of its advocates as they carry out their work by standing up and speaking out against discrimination of HIV and AIDS, helping to change the trajectory of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in light of the impact it can have on the world in reaching the United Nations Target of zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination by 2020 . As at the end of 2015, a total of 36.7 million people were living with HIV and AIDS globally with similarities and differences between regions, countries, provinces and communities.
As part of this year’s local World AIDS Day activities, the Health Services Authority’s Public Health Department, the Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Red Cross have partnered to organise six days of free HIV and AIDS testing dating from November 28 to December 3. Pre and post counselling will also be offered.
Special arrangements have been implemented to facilitate speed and confidentiality for HIV testing activities during the week’s observance. No appointment is necessary during this week, and the waiting time for testing is usually no more than ten minutes. Persons seeking testing or counselling 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 retrieve the results.
There are several ways to avoid or reduce the chances of being exposed:
• Being faithful with a partner who is also faithful; or
• Abstinence; or
• Always using protection (condoms) in sexual encounters.
• Avoid the use of illicit intravenous drugs
The Public Health Department will also like to use this opportunity to remind the public that free HIV screening is offered year round each Tuesday at the Cayman Islands Red Cross at 10am.
For more information about HIV Testing Week, contact HIV and AIDS Coordinator Laura Elniski at 244-2507 or email@example.com or Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.