SAINT Lucians are encouraged to get tested and know their HIV status as we celebrate World Aids Day today.
Saint Lucia joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Aids Day, under the theme, “Know Your Status”, which highlights the need for greater commitment to fighting HIV and raising awareness about the importance of a person knowing his/her HIV status.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James urges Saint Lucians to know their HIV status through testing and to access the treatment and care services available.
She says, “We want all persons to know that anybody can be at risk for contracting HIV disease. Once you are sexually active, you can be at risk; you don’t have to promiscuous to catch the disease. So, we are encouraging persons to get tested.
“When persons get tested, of course we are hoping that everyone will be negative for the disease. But, in case someone gets tested and they find out they are positive, treatment is available.
“Treatment for HIV is available free of charge at all of our public facilities and we also work with the private sector to ensure that persons who were to seek care in the private sector can get their HIV medication free as well.”
Dr. Fredericks is advising Saint Lucians to take advantage of the rapid HIV testing available at the various health care facilities on island.
She says, “Persons should request the test of their health practitioner. Tests are available at all laboratories, but we also offer the rapid HIV test at a number of our health facilities.
“Right now, all pregnant women who attend our ante-natal or the pregnancy clinics at the wellness centers can access the rapid HIV test.
“We also offer it at the sexual and reproductive health clinic that we have daily at the Victoria hospital.
“We offer it at various wellness centers; at the Vieu Fort wellness center, Laborie, Delcer, Dennery and other wellness centers on particular days.”
The Ministry of Health and Wellness has adopted the international guidelines where a person diagnosed with HIV begins treatment immediately.