January 28, 2022

Cayman: Minister for Health and Wellness Hon. Sabrina Turner, MP, World AIDS Day Message 2021

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Today, 1 December, is globally recognized as World AIDS Day and as a global community, we pause to acknowledge those who are living in our community with HIV & AIDS, those who are newly infected and coping with their new reality and honour those who have lost their lives to this disease.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 37.7 million people were living with HIV in 2020, 1.5 million of which were new infections. 680,000 persons also lost their lives to HIV/AIDS related causes in 2020. Here on our own shores, we currently have 74 persons living with HIV, five of which learned of their HIV positive status this year.

As medical developments are made, more and more HIV positive persons are able to live longer, fuller lives with the assistance of antiretroviral medications. However, there still remains a global challenge to give all impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic equal access to these drugs.

This year’s theme “End Inequalities, End AIDS” implores government leaders, like myself and my colleagues in Parliament, to ensure that persons with HIV/AIDS have access to the essential care they need, especially now that we are coping with the challenges presented by COVID-19. 

The Ministry of Health & Wellness is proud to work with entities such as the Cayman AIDS Foundation and the Cayman Islands Red Cross to provide in-depth education and awareness about HIV and its implications on our society. The Health Services Authority and the Public Health department also work with these non-governmental organisations to provide free testing to people in our community, as well as treatment to those who have contracted HIV.

As part of this year’s local World AIDS Day activities, the Public Health Department and the Cayman Islands Red Cross have once again joined forces to host a week of Free HIV and STI testing from 29th November -3rd December by appointment only. Free HIV testing and counselling will also be offered. 

On Wednesday 1st December, a virtual session on HIV 101 will be held where basic information on HIV and AIDS will be discussed. More information is available from the Public Health Department.

Those people living with HIV are also encouraged and given high priority for vaccination against COVID-19 by the Public Health Department. 

Locally, nearly twenty percent of persons who contracted HIV/AIDS did so while they were between ages 25 to 29. I encourage persons of all ages, but especially those under 30, to take a vested interest in their sexual health by practicing safe sex, knowing their HIV status and that of their sexual partners, and getting tested as a part of their regular health checks. 

We owe the persons among us who are grappling with HIV a life free of stigma, and equitable access to the resources they need to live healthy, thriving lives. As we mark World AIDS Day today, please take a moment to remember those whose lives were claimed by HIV and AIDS. Let us continue to work together towards an HIV free world. 

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