Focus is on HIV/AIDS this week

The Cayman Islands will join the global community in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the need for the development of education and prevention initiatives commemorating HIV/AIDS awareness week from today to 1 December.

December 1st is designated internationally as World AIDS Day. This is HIV/AIDS awareness week.

The Health Services Authority will offer free HIV/AIDS screening throughout the week beginning today through Friday.

Hours of screening will be 9am-2pm Monday to Friday in all district health centres, general practice unit, and public health department at Cayman Islands Hospital and Faith Hospital Cayman Brac.

People in Little Cayman may call the clinic at 948-0074 to make arrangements for these tests.

They must return to the District Health Centre or clinic where the test was done for the results. Results will not be given over the telephone to protect the confidentiality. The results will be ready three days after testing.

For more information on HIV/AIDS screening the public can contact nurse Pauline Ffrench STI/AIDS programme coordinator at 244-2631 or Mrs. Therese Prehay Health Promotion Officer at 244-2632

Other activities planned by the Public Health Department and Cayman AIDS Foundation to promote public education include media presentations, educational presentations in the schools and a candlelight vigil march.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar says ‘one of the primary objectives of HIV/AIDS awareness week is to increase knowledge about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Cayman population and raise consciousness in the community about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the need for the development of education and prevention initiatives.’

The theme of World AIDS Day 2006 is Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise. The theme draws attention to the need for strong caring leadership, political will and personal accountability in controlling the spread of HIV.

Ms Ffrench says there is greater need by all individuals to increase their knowledge and response to HIV.

‘Let us increase awareness on HIV/AIDS, and promote understanding of HIV/AIDS as an issue that affects everyone in the community and also for each to take action and responsibility in ensuring the necessary precautions against this preventable disease,’ she said.

‘HIV is no longer considered a death sentence. With proper care and anti-retroviral medication, by avoiding too much stress and by adopting healthy eating habits infected persons continue to lead long and productive lives,’ she added.

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