KINGSTON — Jamaicans are being encouraged to get tested for HIV and syphilis on World AIDS Day on December 1.
On December 1, Behaviour Change Communication Officer, National HIV/STI Programme, Ministry of Health, Roshane Reid, said that all regional health authorities will be offering free testing for the diseases on the day. “So persons can come out and get tested,” she urged.
Miss Reid was speaking with JIS News on November 18 following the reading of the proclamation declaring December 1 as World AIDS Day, by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, during a ceremony at King’s House.
She said that the Ministry, through its National HIV/STI Programme, is vigorously promoting testing “because we are trying our very best to halt and reverse the spread of HIV in Jamaica”.
The Governor-General, in the proclamation, also encouraged persons to participate in the various activities that will be held across the island to mark World AIDS Day. Activities also include a 5-kilometre red ribbon run, and a national church service.
He further pointed out that HIV/AIDS is a developmental issue, which affects the social, cultural, political and economic fabric of the nation and that the national response encompasses prevention of new HIV infections; treatment, care and support of those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; and the creation of an enabling environment.
“Members of the general public, and especially leaders from all spheres of society, need to mobilise support and encourage persons to become more aware of the risks of contracting HIV and the importance of getting tested for HIV and becoming cognisant of their status, and to practice prevention methods in order to eliminate new transmissions,” he said.
In his remarks, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer said that though Jamaica has made “tremendous strides” in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, “if the Millennium Development Goals are to be reached, much more needs to be done”.
Observed internationally every year on December 1, World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection. This year’s theme is: ‘No New HIV Infections; Know Your Status’.
The 5-k run, slated for November 27, will begin at 7:00 a.m. at King’s House. Tickets are $1,000 for adults and $500 for children. This will be followed by the national church service at 8:00 a.m. at the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living in St. Andrew.
Activities on December 1 begin with an advocacy leadership breakfast for high level leaders at 7:30 a.m.; and the national testing event will be held at Devon House in St. Andrew from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Free HIV testing will also be done at Emancipation Park from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event will also include a youth craft exhibition and lunch hour concert.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Jamaica AIDS Support for Life at 6:00 p.m., while the Jamaica Business Council on HIV AIDS (JaBCHA) will host its 4th World AIDS Day fundraising dinner at the Wyndham Hotel at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for this event is $5,000 per person.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter