PM Urges All Jamaicans to get Routine HIV Tests


Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding and Chairman of the National AIDS Committee, Howard Hamilton on (Nov. 29) underwent voluntary counselling and HIV tests at Jamaica House in a gesture to encourage more Jamaicans to get tested for the virus.
The tests, which were done, using the rapid test method forms part of the Committee’s leadership activities for World AIDS Day 2007, which will be observed on December 1. The activity aims to encourage more proactive involvement of high level leaders in the drive to reduce the infection rate of HIV/AIDS, by encouraging more persons to know their HIV status, and reduce the fear and stigma associated with the disease.
In a brief address, following his test, Prime Minister Golding said every Jamaican should get tested for HIV, as it is not an ailment that only affects social deviants. “It is something to which all of us can be exposed,” he said. Mr. Golding urged persons to get tested just as routinely as they would for other health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. “The test is simple, it takes very little time and there is virtually no pain,” he assured.
The Prime Minister stressed that HIV AIDS is no longer a “death sentence” as even in instances where persons test positive, they can live a normal life once detection and treatment begins early.
He said getting tested routinely will assist with keeping the incidences of HIV in the country as low as possible.
UN AIDS estimates that global HIV prevalence has leveled off, with the number of new infections having fallen partly as a result of the impact of HIV programmes. In Jamaica, it is estimated that between 25,000 and 28,000 persons are living with HIV (not AIDS). However, between 15,000 and 18,000 of these persons are unaware that they are HIV positive.

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