AIDS Commission National Women & Girls’ Awareness Day
March tenth is recognized as National Women and Girls’ HIV Awareness Day; this year, under the theme: “The Best Defence is a Good Offense.” The activities bring into focus the reality that HIV/AIDS has no barriers and affects everyone and must therefore be addressed holistically. News Five’s Duane Moody was at a health fair which also brought awareness on other health issues.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The National AIDS Commission, Belize Family Life Association, the Ministry of Health and the Special Envoy for Women and Children today commemorated National Women and Girls’ HIV Awareness Day with a health fair at the Lion’s Parking Lot in Belize City. The activities saw students as well as the general public get tested in areas including HIV and diabetes. But it also provided an opportunity for various stakeholders to sensitize the public on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Arthur Usher, Communication and Programs Officer, National Aids Commission
“It’s open to the general public as well as youth, girls, women, anybody can come in and get the test. We do have blood pressure checks, we have kidney checks [and] we have HIV testing. With all this, we do have the information, the follow-up; the pre and post test and whatever else information you may need. So each organization has its own booth and own information sharing.”
But how vulnerable are women and girls in acquiring these illnesses, specifically sexually transmitted diseases? Communication and Programs Officer at the National Aids Commission, Arthur Usher, says that the statistics show that the sensitive group has better practices in accessing the available health services.
“I think that status quo is still true. For the most part, women and girls have better health seeking behaviors than men and boys; I think that is something cultural. We are working on that. Statistically, the information and sharing of that information and the knowledge has grown. We are hoping that it translates to better health seeking behavior. This is one of our annual awareness campaigns so we have multiple campaigns coming up for the next three, four months. We do have regional testing day coming up in June; we have World Aids Day in December as everybody knows. But throughout the year, we will be having some smaller activities so people can take advantage of those as well.”
The fair also included the celebration of World Kidney Day, recognized annually on March ninth. This year, under the theme, “Obesity and kidney disease: hidden consequences of the epidemic,” President Oscar Itch says that a healthy living lifestyle is the best way to prevent the disease.
Oscar Itch, President, Kidney Association of Belize
“We have the diabetes association that comes out and do the glucose testing and then we have the clinics, Matron Roberts and Cleopatra White, who assists us with the blood pressure and then we have the phlebotomist, assisting us with the extracting of blood and the Central Lab assists us with doing those tests for us. What we’ve seen is that there has been an increase in diabetes and hypertension and both causes have seen to be one of the main reasons for kidney failure. So if there’s an increase in diabetes and hypertension, there is also an increase in kidney disease throughout the country of Belize. Apart from our health fair, what we have embarked on is a nationwide educational campaign where we’ve visited several organizations like B.E.L., BWS, schools, we do home visits. We try as much as possible to do the educational aspect of it because we believe that prevention is better than cure. What we try to do is educate people on healthy living lifestyles: eating healthy, drinking enough water for the day—at least ten glasses for the day—doing exercise. If you are diabetic or hypertensive, ensure that you control the levels that they don’t go high and do a kidney function test at least once a year.”
Duane Moody for News Five.