HIV Free Testing available on Saturday

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), in collaboration with the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation, will be hosting a free HIV testing session on Saturday, December 19 at the Cole Bay Community Help Desk which is located across the street from the ACE Mega Store.

Those who are interested in the free HIV test should visit the Cole Bay Community Help Desk between 10.00AM and 3.00PM.  The testing and diagnosis are carried out in a confidential manner.

For those who will be visiting the Help Desk, you are expected to observe COVID-19 public health safety measures such as wearing a mask, and social distancing (two meters from others). Mask should be worn over your nose and mouth and should be properly secured under your chin.

HIV can be diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests that can provide same-day results. Rapid test and self-tests have greatly facilitated diagnosis and linkage with treatment and care.

There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective prevention interventions are available: preventing mother-to-child-transmission, male and female condom use, harm reduction interventions, pre-exposure prophylaxis, post exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) which can control the virus and help prevent onward transmission to other people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed almost 33 million lives so far. However, with increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives, according to an WHO fact sheet.

There were an estimated 38.0 million people living with HIV at the end of 2019.