Grenadians will get an opportunity on June 28 to know their health status as preparation continues for the Scotiabank – Regional Testing Day 2013.
It’s part of a regional campaign, being led by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP), in association with Scotiabank, and in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS (PANCAP).
The initiative was launched last week Friday and Country Manager for Scotiabank Grenada, Elie Bendaley reaffirmed the fact that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence but emphasised the importance of early detection and by extension treatment.
Bendaley told the media that what is most gratifying for Scotiabank since the launch of the programme is the reduction in stigma attached to those infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.
He said that the issue of HIV/AIDS is a community problem that requires a community solution and is cautioning that the Ministry of Health’s record of approximately 200 people receiving treatment is not a true representation of the number of people living with the disease.
Health Promotions Officer in the Ministry of Health, Judy Benoit welcomed the partnership with Scotia and others to help in the prevention or spread of HIV/AIDS.
She said that during this initiative people are educated on their responsibility to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Benoit is encouraging the general public to take the opportunity to participate in the initiative and get to know their HIV/AIDS status.
Director of the National Infectious Disease Control Unit (NIDCU), Dr. Jessie Henry said that since the launch of the programme, participating countries have grown from 6 to 17 and a total of 5,084 persons, mostly women, have been tested.
Dr. Henry is encouraging the men in the society to step up and come forward, and to get to know their status as early diagnosis can lead to treatment and the unnecessary spread of the infection.
She commended the programme as an example of good partnership between the media and private and public sectors.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Aaron Francois, said that since the detection of HIV/AIDS some 32-years ago, the disease remains poorly understood and has changed from a health issue to a social issue with a gender flavour.
He complimented the CBMP, Scotiabank and the Ministry of Health for this partnership that allows for free testing of people to know their status and encouraged citizens to take full advantage of the opportunity.
The Caribbean is second only to South Africa when it comes to the people infected with HIV/AIDS.
It is estimated that close to two million people in the Caribbean and Latin America are living with the dreaded disease.