July 4, 2022

Cayman: Free HIV tests to celebrate HIV Testing Week 2021

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Laura Elniski

The Health Services Authority (HSA) and the Cayman Islands Red Cross will once again join forces in coordinating free HIV testing to mark HIV Testing Week which will be observed in the Cayman Islands from June 21st-25th. 

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have set the world back in the fight against ending AIDS by 2030, the AIDS crisis taught us how to handle COVID-19 and many medical experts compared the two pandemics,” said HIV and STI Programme Coordinator Laura Elniski. “The COVID crisis could see an HIV resurgent, therefore we urge persons to come out and take advantage of the free and confidential HIV testing. The COVID-19 pandemic can also shape the future HIV and AIDS response in the Caribbean and impact our move towards reaching the goal of ending HIV and AIDS by 2030.”

A recent UNAIDS report shows that countries with progressive laws and policies and strong and inclusive health systems have had the best outcomes against HIV. In those countries, people living with and affected by HIV are more likely to have access to effective HIV services, including HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (medicine to prevent HIV), harm reduction, multi-month supplies of HIV treatment and consistent, quality follow-up and care. The Cayman Islands ensure to provide all the above.

The Cayman Islands join the rest of the world to focus attention on the importance of accelerating the response to HIV over the next five years to set the world on course to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Four decades after the first cases of AIDS were reported, it remains a major public health crisis and only a few countries meet the 90–90–90 UNAIDS target for 2020. At the end 2019, 77% of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean knew their status, 81% of diagnosed people were on treatment and 80% of those on antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed. A survey conducted by PANCAP (Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS) in the Caribbean showed that during 2020, facility-and community- based HIV testing services reduced by two-thirds (69%) in countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, HSA and the Cayman Islands Red Cross encourage the public to take advantage of the country’s HIV and AIDS support services and book an appointment to get tested by contacting Laura Elniski at [email protected] or 244-2507, or Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632.

HIV Testing week provides an opportunity to educate the public about prevention and protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as free testing to know one’s status.  The testing procedure involves a quick and simple blood test. Persons who are seeking testing or counselling can indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV testing. The results will be available in three working days or less and will be given to the patient only.

NOTES:

What is HIV? 

  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
  • You can have HIV and not know it .

How is HIV transmitted?

  • HIV is a virus transmitted through four body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk) that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections.
  • If untreated HIV reduces the immune system making it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. Some infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS.

How do I know if I have HIV?

The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your status is im

support services and book an appointment to get tested by contacting Laura Elniski at [email protected] or 244-2507, or Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632.

HIV Testing week provides an opportunity to educate the public about prevention and protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as free testing to know one’s status.  The testing procedure involves a quick and simple blood test. Persons who are seeking testing or counselling can indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV testing. The results will be available in three working days or less and will be given to the patient only.

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