St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Friday (June 30) was Regional Testing Day for HIV and on St. Kitts the event was marked with free rapid HIV testing at the Independence Square.
St. Kitts and Nevis had several events for the tenth anniversary of HIV Regional Testing Day which is celebrated across the Caribbean, advocating for citizens to know their HIV status.
In observance of Regional HIV Testing Day on Friday, June 30th, the Ministry of Health set up several counseling and testing sites in the country – one in Independence Square, the other in the Bird Rock RAMS parking lot, the parking lot of Best Buy’s Supermarket in Buckley’s and a temporary testing center in front of the Nevis Island Administration building.
HIV testing and counseling ran from 9 am to 6 pm.
Lucine Pemberton, health educator and counselor, spoke to WINN FM about the HIV testing procedure.
“We are experiencing ten years of Regional HIV Testing Day and it’s a very easy and simple experience, you come, you are counseled, you get a finger prick just as if you were taking a sugar [glucose] test, and we take three drops of blood and we put it on the test kit, and in ten to twelve minutes time you know your status. Who should get tested? Anyone who has ever had sex before, anyone who has possibly been exposed to the virus through blood, anyone who is planning to have sex like those who are going to get married, you should know your status. At the end of the testing experience you get what we call a lover’s license just like how you shouldn’t be driving without a license, you shouldn’t be making love without that license that says that you are good to go.”
Ms. Pemberton also explained the importance of knowing one’s HIV status.
“It’s important that one knows their status because if you know that you are HIV positive you do not have to progress to AIDS, AIDS is the end stage of HIV, barring treatment. If you find out today you can get treated and it enhances and prolongs your life. Testing is free, treatment is free, there is no excuse every single person should know their status.”
The Ministry of Health has had various other testing dates throughout the month of June, and aimed to test 1,000 people for their HIV status.