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Jun 28, 2013

Live up and get tested for HIV

For the second year, Belize joined the Caribbean for the sixth Regional HIV/AIDS Testing Day.  The initiative was celebrated throughout the Caribbean and it is co-sponsored by Scotia Bank. At five locations countrywide today, the Ministry of Health also partnered with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National AIDS Commission, the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS and PANCAP to conduct voluntary counseling and testing. The initiative is promoting participation by the public and private sectors, civil society as well as the media to assist in the reduction in the spread of HIV by knowing their status. This provides the opportunity for HIV negative persons to receive risk reduction counseling and for those infected to be referred early into treatment and care programs.

 

Kathy Esquivel, Chairperson, National AIDS Commission

Kathy Esquivel

“Whether you test positive or negative, it is very important. If you test negative, presumably you test because you think you might be at some risk and therefore it tells you that whatever you’ve been doing to prevent or reduce risk might be working…might tell you that you’ve just been lucky and you need to take more preventions. If you are positive, it means that you can then move on to what you need to do. You can get medication, you can ensure as far as possible that you don’t transmit the infection to people you love and you can live a full and useful life as a positive persons. So it is really important that you known your status. We find that when people come into the system very late, when they are already showing system of AIDS, then their prognosis isn’t good. But if they are tested early and they are symptoms, the prognosis is good.”

 

Duane Moody

“We know that there are of course a lot of ads out there informing persons why they should get tested. How is it that you are making sure that they do get tested without making them feel that they are pressured into doing this?”

 

Marvin Manzanero

Marvin Manzanero, Director of HIV Program, Ministry of Health

“One of the reasons why we put it out in the public in a day like today, we cannot expect people to get tested only at the sites; this is taking a more proactive approach because people that usually go to the sites are people that feel that they are at risk. So the persons of having activities like this is to have it out so that people who may not think that they are at risk, come in , discuss it with a counselor, with a nurse; their risks are assessed and they are offered an HIV test. As long as people are sexually active…anybody who is sexually active should be getting screened or should have been screened already. It is simply another opportunity to put HIV in the limelight giving the importance it has; particularly as we are tying up the 2012 data that has some things that need to be further discussed.”

 

Recent studies show that persons with fewer resources are more vulnerable to contracting AIDS, persons who use and abuse drugs are more at risk as well as female sex workers and men who have sex with men. 

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