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Jun 30, 2017

Know Your Status: Test for HIV!

Belize joined regional efforts today to encourage testing for HIV, particularly by men. Across the country, centers were open for persons to get tested and know their status. The trends show that more women are getting tested with the number of men lagging behind. The National AIDS Commission says that it is dangerous not knowing your status. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The tenth anniversary of Regional Testing Day took place today across the Caribbean. In Belize, HIV testing stations were set up in eight municipalities countrywide in an effort to get people, particularly men, to know their HIV status.

 

Arthur Usher

Arthur Usher, Communications & Programs Officer, NAC

“Belize is celebrating six years as the part of the program. This year is the first year we are doing eight sites countrywide. So we are doing San Pedro, Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Dangriga and PG. So it is a nationally coordinated activity today. It is from nine to three o’clock at each site and basically we are saying, come out, now your status and get tested.”

 

Duane Moody

“The focus from what we understand remains the same, to try and get more men to come out and get tested.”

 

Arthur Usher

“Right….our data in 2016 is still saying that out of the thirty-two thousand tests done last year, sixty-six percent were women. So you have thirty-four percent men, so we still have big disparity in terms of the ratio. So we are prompting men to come out more.”

 

As early as nine a.m. today, residents made their way behind Scotia Bank in Belize City to get tested. After going through a quick survey, they would undergo a quick test and learn their status on the spot. Kyle Miller says that it is dangerous not knowing your status.

 

Kyle Miller

Kyle Miller, Resident

“As a young person you should always know your status. It is always important to know your status rather than not to know your status. It is more dangerous to not knowing your status than to know your status. So every time they have world testing day or even any other testing, I try to go out and get my test to know my status, to know more or less where I am at. It’s always been an issue to get men to go, even to the hospital or the clinics. I don’t know if it is this machismo thing whereby they think that men don’t need to get tested or if my gial get tested oh I good or something like that. But no; it is always good for men to come out and getting tested, to visit the hospitals, to get an overall general test.”

 

The aim is to reach zero new cases by 2020. But that goal might not be possible for several reasons, including that all persons afflicted with the disease have not been tested.  Over the past five years, the number of new cases annually has been constant, around two hundred persons. While there was a dip in 2015, there is need for more interventions. Communications and Programs Officer at the National Aids Commission, Arthur Usher, says that they’ve been going to male-dominated organizations to do testing.

 

Arthur Usher

“The National Aids Commission on a whole comprises of multiple agencies and so when we are dealing with multiple activities at different levels, targeting different populations. And that is what most of the other organizations are doing: the BFLA, the Ministry of Health and other organizations; they are targeting and assisting in different areas and facets of the society.  We actually got awarded for doing that regionally. Belize is the only country that has been doing that consistently for the past four years. Six weeks prior to today, we’ve been testing throughout the country at male-dominated organizations. So this year, we did police station, fire station, Coastguard, CPBL and some other construction sites and things like that. And we have been doing this since 2014.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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