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Dec 1, 2016

Healthy Living: 3 Reasons Why You Should Get Tested for H.I.V.

You saw earlier in this newscast the commemoration of World Aids Day in Belize. That story and the many others we’ve put together for this health segment have provided you information as to why you should know your status. In fact, the advertisements, billboards, brochures…they all tell you to not only know your status but also how to prevent getting infected with HIV. So tonight in Healthy Living, we’ll simplify the advice and give you three basic reasons why you should get tested today.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

There are countless excuses that people give as to why they don’t get tested for HIV. It seems to be common knowledge, that once you’ve had unprotected sex, you have exposed yourself to contracting the sexually transmitted infection. Yet, a large part of our population still don’t – specifically our men. So here are three reasons you should get tested today.

 

Number one: It’s free!

Zero cost. The Ministry of Health offers free testing at all its public clinics countrywide and even has special clinics in Orange Walk, Belize City, Cayo and Dangriga, called VCT Centers – which is the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers. They conduct the test, assess your behaviors and provide your results with absolutely no charge. In the event, you are diagnosed with HIV; the medication…is free too!

 

Number two: It’s not as painful as you think.

In fact, depending on your tolerance, it may not be painful at all. In recent years, there’s been an upgrade to the testing process moving away from withdrawing blood to a much simpler process. Keron Cacho from PASMO explains.

 

Keron Cacho

Keron Cacho, Program Coordinator, PASMO Belize (File: June 26th, 2014)

“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.”

 

Lastly, number three: an HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence.

With a healthy lifestyle and medication, the life expectancy of an HIV infected person is almost average. The support organization CNET+ has a number of members who are living very happy healthy lives even with HIV.

 

Adi Mai

Adi Mai, Living with HIV, Founding Member CNET+ (File: November 27th, 2014)

“For me, I think being HIV has actually improved my life. For me, it has improved. How? Because after being diagnosed, I started to attending support groups in Orange Walk and that is where I met my partner. So apart from that, one mentality that we have when we are diagnosed…”Oh my god, we are never going to have a partner again and nobody will want us and nobody would want to be with us.” I said, no love for me. Most people think that we, as women, should not get pregnant if we are HIV positive because the baby will come out positive. So there is a lot of negative and positive reaction. In my case, I was there with the medication, I didn’t miss; I always used condom. I always try to get a good sleep. The help and support of family members and partner is number one. And here I am. When they handed me the baby, the doctor there told me everything is fine with your baby. The viral load was undetectable. I think that was the most happiest day of my life.”

 

Eric Castellanos

Eric Castellanos, Living with HIV, Founding Member CNET+ (File: November 27th, 2014)
“Perseverance and adherence; because if the mother was not adhering to treatment when she was pregnant, then the story might have been different. But it is just a story of depicting persons living with HIV as who we really are…just ordinary human beings.”

 

Adi Mai
“Being HIV, many people would say it is a death sentence…it is not. For me, it has been a wonderful journey and I plan to continue living it and I have grown a lot. I have grown even in my self-esteem I have grown and I think it never went bad for me. It has never went bad.”

 

And as a final note: you don’t have to wait for World Aids Day or Regional Testing Day; you can always choose to go ahead and get tested when its most convenient for you.

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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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