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JIS News

The Manchester Health Department in collaboration with the Southern Regional Health Authority and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), have been hosting a series of activities to help to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in the parish.
Under the theme ‘Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise – Get Tested’, the activities have been planned to sensitize the general public, to build awareness, and to encourage individuals to get tested.
In an interview with JIS News, Medical Officer for Manchester, Dr. Beverly Wright said “on the first of December each year the World observes World AIDS Day and this year . the Manchester Health Department, as part of the Ministry of Health, has joined in this programme to encourage members of the community . to get tested”. She added that “the Ministry of Health has a target of conducting 10,000 HIV tests between November 1 and December 1 this year. Locally we have a target of 1,000 tests and so far we have conducted outreach meetings in the communities of Porus and Christiana”. The tests conducted in these and other areas of Manchester have totaled more than the 600 mark.
“On December 1, we’ll be having an outreach right here in Mandeville at the Mandeville Parish Church Hall,” Dr. Wright noted, adding that “we’ll be having a programme of sensitization as well as free HIV testing.the testing is voluntary, we are not forcing you, we are inviting you to come and get tested”.
“This is a starting point to know your status and by so doing, if you are infected you can benefit from the anti-retroviral treatment and supports that are available for persons living with HIV,” she urged.
Dr. Wright advised however that, “if you are negative it’s a time for you to take stock of your behaviour and promise to protect yourself by practising safe sex, abstaining, sticking to one faithful, uninfected partner, or using the condom every time”.
There are approximately 25,000 people currently infected with HIV in the island. However of that number, approximately 15,000 persons are unaware that they are HIV positive.
The campaign is mainly targeting males, as they constitute the majority of infections. It is for this reason that the World AIDS Day intervention will employ strategies to reach males and have them tested.