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Regional Testing Day 2012 Receives Bi Partisan Support From Jamaican Leaders
Jamaican Prime Minister the Honorable Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller and the Leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party the Honourable Andrew Holness are urging the people of the Caribbean Region to go out and get tested for HIV on June 29 – the Regional Testing Day on HIV.
Mrs. Simpson-Miller says that while individual Caribbean countries have been making valiant efforts in implementing programmes which have had a positive impact on the rate of infection, there is considerable work still to be done as the region faces a serious threat from HIV/AIDS “All of us must have a responsibility to help in containing this HIV/AIDS scourge which threatens Caribbean development and the future prosperity of our people”
Mr. Holness is encouraging the people of the Region to support any program that seeks to create greater awareness of the need for testing “We must at all times promote early detection. We have a responsibility to make sure that our brothers and sisters and our children, who are in situation of high risk are tested regularly so that they are aware of their HIV status”
The Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP) and Scotiabank in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Pan Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) celebrates the fifth Anniversary of the annual Regional HIV Testing Day on Friday June 29, 2012.
On Regional Testing Day, people across the globe will be provided with the opportunity to visit Testing Sites to participate in private, voluntary HIV counselling and testing conducted by trained and experienced personnel from Ministries of Health. This year over 140 testing centres are being mounted in 20 countries across the region. There will also be expanded periods of testing; while June 29, 2012 is the official Regional Testing Day many countries are offering testing for more than one day. In St. Vincent testing takes place between June 23 and July 6, in Trinidad and Tobago testing will be done between June 22 and 29 at 39 centres and in Cayman testing is being mounted between June 25th and 29th at ten centres. In Guyana this year the faith-based community has given enthusiastic support and is hosting 11 of the 20 testing sites at Churches across the country.
While the Caribbean remains one of the hardest hit regions in the world by the AIDS epidemic – second only to Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of HIV prevalence – HIV testing is an important part of prevention and treatment efforts.The Caribbean people of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, French Guiana, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica have all signed on to this initiative, which has been fully endorsed by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP). PANCAP has invited the Ministries and Departments of Health across the region in the participating territories to take the lead in planning and organizing the event locally with the provision of all necessary professional staff and commodities.
Other members of civil society also work with this initiative including all National AIDS Programmes (NAPs), People Living with HIV (PLHIV) community, the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. In Jamaica, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, Jamaica Red Cross and Population Services International/Caribbean receive full support. In order to build awareness about Regional Testing Day, the CBMP and its 111 top broadcast members from 24 counties throughout the region has designed, produced and distributed a coordinated campaign of radio and television ads reaching tens of thousands of people for the month preceding the testing day. This radio and TV campaign began on the day of the Media Launch on Friday, May 25th in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay Jamaica.
The hustle and bustle of the Sam Sharpe Square in the busy tourist mecca of Montego Bay came to a standstill during the Media Launch during which statements of commitment from Jamaican Prime Minister the Honourable Portia Simpson Miller and the Leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party the Honourable Andrew Holness were read. Messages of endorsement were also delivered on behalf of Scotiabank Jamaica and the Ministry of Health. The large crowd in Sam Sharpe square also rocked to the lively and entertaining endorsements from International Reggae Artiste and I live Up Champion Tanya Stephens, the smooth and experienced Ebony Sisters and the Dance Spirit group.
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