World Aids Day 2017
World Aids Day is observed on 1st December every year. It highlights the need for a collaborative effort to reduce HIV infections, reduce discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS and eliminate AIDS-related deaths. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) highlights two main elements in addressing the AIDS epidemic: these are improving HIV/AIDS prevention as well as support services, and tackling societal factors which may increase vulnerability of persons to HIV/AIDS.
The theme for the 2017 observation is: “My Right, My Health”
This year the campaign for World Aids Day focuses on the right to health. This covers the health of those estimated 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS as they require special medical attention, as well as persons who are vulnerable to the epidemic due to social or cultural factors. The aim is to achieve universal health coverage so that persons living with HIV/AIDS may have access to affordable healthcare, HIV/AIDS services and health systems may be more robust and of a high quality, and so that nobody is left behind in the provision of health services for the management and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
What can you do?
There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, therefore prevention is often the focus. Some of the main measures that can be taken to avoid contracting this sexually transmitted virus include using a condom every time you have sex if you don’t know the HIV status of your partner, using a clean needle when receiving drug injections, considering male circumcision as studies have shown this may reduce the chance of a male contracting HIV, and considering drugs like Truvada or other pre-exposure prophylaxis medications, which can help reduce the risk of HIV infection for those considered to be at high risk. Additionally, you can help prevent the spread of HIV to others by encouraging your friends and partners to get tested for HIV so that they would know their status and take the necessary measures to avoid spreading the disease if they are HIV positive. HIV testing is done in in many community health centers around the island. Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of these services as knowing your HIV status is a key part of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and understanding your right to health and healthcare services.
What’s happening in Saint Lucia for World Aids Day 2017
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is organizing a drive to encourage members of the public to know their status. On Friday, 1st December 2017, free HIV testing will take place at the Castries Health Center in the afternoon, in Serenity Park, at the Gros Islet Polyclinic and at St. Jude Hospital. Take advantage of these services because it is Your Right, Your Health!