Jamaicans Urged to get Tested for HIV


Chairperson of the National AIDS Committee, Howard Hamilton, has urged persons to get tested for HIV, noting that testing positive for the virus was no longer a death sentence.
“You don’t have to be afraid of getting tested. There was a time when people were mortified of doing the test because they said if they have it (HIV/AIDS), they did not want to know. That was the approach, but it doesn’t have to be anymore, because your life can be saved. It is not a thing to be ashamed of. It can happen to anybody,” he stated, while addressing athletes and students at yesterday’s (Feb.12) launch of Safer Sex Week on the Old Hope Road campus of the University of Technology (UTech).
Meanwhile, Chief of Epidemiology and AIDS at the Ministry of Health, Professor Peter Figueroa informed that for people, who were sexually active, an annual test was recommended, but “once you test, you still have to practise safe sex”. Further, he said, persons in the commercial sex trade would need to test more frequently, while those in mutually monogamous relationships would not need to test as often.
In his endorsement of voluntary HIV testing, West Indies Cricketer, Gareth Breese, said that there were many responsibilities associated with becoming sexually active, as aside from protection, getting tested was a big part of this responsibility. “You can never be too safe. Getting tested is going to make you aware of where you stand so that you can protect your love ones. It is imperative to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in our society and HIV testing is the first step in that process,” he said. Mr. Breese further urged persons to take advantage of the free HIV testing offered by the Ministry across the island this week.
Safer Sex Week is being observed from February 11-17 under the theme: ‘Safe Sex/Good Sex=Rubbers’ and a number of activities have been planned to mark the observance.
Chief among these are free testing and counselling, which will be offered at centres across the island, with the final outreach to be held on Friday (Feb.16) at the St. William Grant Park in Kingston from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Persons may contact the Ministry of Health for a comprehensive list of all the venues for their particular area or parish.
The launch of Safer Sex Week also served as a platform for the voluntary testing of members of the MVP Track and Field Club located on the UTech campus.

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