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Jun 26, 2014

PASMO debunks the myths of HIV testing on Healthy Living

The Caribbean Regional Testing Day was established in 2008 as a designated day in June to promote HIV testing. Throughout the Caribbean, Ministries of Health, Scotiabanks, and other local agencies organize testing activities in their country. Locally, the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Commission, PASMO Belize and Scotiabank Belize have partnered for the last three years to encourage Belizeans to volunteer to get tested. This year, on Friday, June twenty-seventh – they call on all Belizeans to visit the nearest testing sites and find out their status. For some added encouragement, tonight’s Healthy Living will feature PASMO Belize who will debunk some of the common myths about getting tested.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
Chances are that every day you are exposed to information about HIV and AIDS. From the billboards, commercials, even posters and bumper stickers, it really is hard to miss. How many of us, though, put into practice the information we receive? Well, that’s an entirely different story. HIV test, for example, isn’t one of the most sought after procedures…especially for men.


Keron Cacho

Keron Cacho, Program Coordinator PASMO Belize
“Machismo – there’s a macho thing about not taking a test. Men will deal with their health when its last minute, when I can’t take this pain anymore.”


Keron Cacho works with PASMO Belize. They work directly in the field, interacting with Belizeans, educating them and providing necessary tools for prevention of HIV. One of the main populations that PASMO Belize targets is men.


Keron Cacho

“There are several still misconceptions about HIV test itself.  My wife got tested so I’m ok. My wife just had a baby so that means that I’m cool.  You’re two different individuals, I always tell people we live in the real world; where there is a lot of promiscuity and that the HIV virus is unique and it affects people in various ways.”


As peer educators, they’ve heard just about all the excuses as to why people don’t get tested. Another regular excuse, are those who say “I’m not gay.”


Keron Cacho

“If we look at our data, there are several around. A lot of them will direct you to the fact that a lot of the new infections are happening to heterosexual males. While it is true that homosexuals interact with a specific sexual act that puts them at risk, they’re not the only sexual group to engage in this specific sexual activity. Any individual that will put themselves in that position or anyone that is sexually active is at risk for contracting HIV.  HIV tests are free and the antiretroviral medicine are free, if you are positive. But we’re talking about having the time to take treatments, dealing with stigma and discrimination and cause that’s an issue as we speak. The expense of simply living and existing and taking care of your family as a male individual.”


What about those who say: “I just don’t want to know. Ignorance is Bliss.”


Keron Cacho

“Ignorance in that way can never be bliss. It’s more costly; if you know your status, we need to treat this illness like you treat diabetes, your glucose level is high you take your medication to level it. It is similar to HIV. There are antiretroviral medications that you take and live with throughout the course of your life.  It is not a death sentence, not in this age or generation. It shouldn’t be. You determine how it’s going to be. You take your medications. If you’re sexually active, use a condom. If you’re a mother who has an unborn child you go through that pre and post natal care.”

And a common excuse – although some may never admit it – is a fear of those long painful looking needles.


Keron Cacho

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m also scared of needles. That’s why I’m so happy that the testing process is so much easier now. In many cases, especially the urban areas, you’ll find the nurses doing the similar pricking procedures as If you were taking your glucose levels for diabetes. So it’s a single fingerpick.”


These of course, are only some of the excuses people make; but when it comes to your health you should avoid the excuses. Ideally any person who is sexually active should be tested twice a year.

The Regional Testing Day will be this Friday, June twenty-seventh, from nine a.m. to four p.m. The new testing methods take about ten to fifteen minutes.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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