IN anticipation of the 10th anniversary of Regional Testing Day (RTD) next year, the 2016 campaign will be launched on May 20 in Saint Lucia under the aegis of the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS with support from Scotiabank, in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS (PANCAP).
Regional Testing Day is one year short of its 10th Anniversary and the goal is to have tested at least 100,000 people in the Caribbean by 2017.
CBMP Executive Director Dr. Allyson Leacock said: “We are proud to have been partners in contributing to the Caribbean region’s distinction of being the first to register success with no babies born with HIV and we are confident that our collective efforts will indeed reap that success as we mark the 10th anniversary of Regional Testing Day in 2017”.
This year’s Campaign focus will be aligned with the region’s wider agenda and targets for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Dr. Leacock explained: “The CBMP coordinated Regional Testing Day activities have contributed to the achievement of this strategic objective. This year’s activities will focus on expanding access to high quality evidence-based and appropriately targeted packages of prevention services while expanding access for key populations and further reducing the stigma and discrimination.”
She emphasized the importance of the work that RTD has done over the years “Through the Annual Regional Testing Day activities, our collective efforts with outstanding support from Scotiabank, PANCAP and Ministries of Health and Caribbean media, have contributed to increased awareness and participation”.
She said that despite these successes, national and regional responses continue to be challenged by structural barriers, particularly stigma and discrimination that impede key affected populations such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers and drug users’ (including youth in all categories); and their access to prevention services including HIV testing.
Since RTD was launched in 2008, some 70,000 people have been tested. Regional Testing Day 2015 was a resounding success with 16,655 persons being tested across the Caribbean, out of whom 110 tested positive for the HIV virus.