Sunday 20 October, 2019

Free HIV testing across Cayman Islands to mark HIV Testing Week

The Health Services Authority (HSA), Cayman AIDS Foundation and Cayman Islands Red Cross will once again join forces in coordinating activities to mark HIV Testing Week to be observed in the Cayman Islands from June 24-29.

This is in support of the National Testing Day and Regional HIV Testing Day observed on June 27. 
 
Testing centres will be available across all three Cayman Islands. Persons who are seeking testing or counseling may indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV testing. The procedure involves a quick and simple blood test, no appointment is necessary during the specified times on the HIV schedule and wait times will be short. 

“The purpose of these annual observances is to ensure people get tested for HIV in order to know their status, get linked to the care and treatment services they need should they be diagnosed with the infection,” said Laura Elniski, HIV and STI Programme Coordinator at the HSA. 

HIV Testing Week in Cayman, more specifically, provides an opportunity for the public to take advantage of free HIV testing that is offered and to become educated about prevention and protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“There is a need for people in the Cayman Islands to better understand how HIV is and isn't transmitted and to be reminded of the importance of testing. Testing may lead to treatment and treatment stops transmission,” Ms Elniski stated. 

According to the global organisation, UNAIDS, research has shown that HIV treatment is so highly effective in reducing the transmission of HIV that people living with HIV with an undetectable viral load due to treatment cannot transmit HIV sexually.

This has prompted UNAIDS to launch its “Undetectable = Untransmittable” campaign. 

Since AIDS first appeared, considerable progress has been made worldwide in reducing new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths.

“This has incredible impact on the lives of people living with HIV and is a powerful message to address HIV-related stigma, discrimination and social exclusion, which threatens to undermine global efforts to address the diagnosis of HIV, and treatment and care of people living with the virus,” Ms Elniski said. 

"Knowing your HIV status is key and this is done through testing. The results will be available within three working days or less and will be given to the patient in person only, at the clinic where they took the test.

"This is to protect the confidentiality of the individual and to offer post-test counseling."

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