Through the collaborative efforts of the Health Services Authority, Scotia Bank Cayman Limited, Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Red Cross, free HIV testing and counselling will run from June 26 to July 1. The theme of this year’s HIV Testing Week is Live up. Love. Protect. Respect.
This initiative is in keeping with international and regional HIV testing days when people can visit testing sites to participate in voluntary HIV counselling and testing conducted by trained and experienced personnel.
HIV counselling and testing is an important entry point into comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment programmes and services. Counselling and testing programmes provide an opportunity for more persons to know their HIV status; for the at-risk clients to receive risk-reduction counselling and support to stay negative; and for HIV infected clients to be referred early into treatment and care programmes with further counselling and support.
No appointment is necessary during HIV Testing Week and the waiting time is usually no more than 10 minutes. Anyone seeking testing or counselling should indicate to the registration clerks that they want 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 to HIV:
• Being faithful to a partner who is also faithful; or
• Abstinence; or
• Always using protection (condoms) in sexual encounters.
• Avoiding the use of illicit intravenous drugs
The Public Health Department also reminds the public that free HIV screening is offered year-round each Tuesday at the Cayman Islands Red Cross at 10 a.m.