The Territory has recorded three new cases of HIV for this year, while seven new cases were recorded in 2015.
Since HIV monitoring commenced in the Virgin Islands in 1985 there have been 126 cases identified with 38 persons living with HIV without a diagnosis of AIDS and 38 known deaths.
Chief Nursing Officer with responsibility for family health, Ms. Jascinth Hannibal said knowing your status empowers you to protect yourself and your loved ones and enables you access to early treatment and care.
Ms. Hannibal is inviting residents in the Virgin Islands to take advantage of the free HIV testing for Caribbean Regional HIV Testing Day on June 24.
The day is recognised across the region as an initiative between the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partners and Scotia Bank in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Development.
Ms. Hannibal stated that the statistics for HIV show that the average age of infection is 39.9 years with 70% of the cases transmitted during unprotected heterosexual encounters. She said women in the over 50 age group appear to have an elevated risk.
She added, “Get tested as a part of your normal health care routine. Minimise or reduce risky sexual practices. This includes having one sexual partner who is faithful to you, knowing your partner’s HIV status, reducing or eliminating the consumption of drugs and alcohol that limit your ability to make good decisions and if abstinence is not an option, use condoms all the time.”
Residents can get a free HIV test at 42nd Street, East End on June 24 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., HIV Foundation Offices at 33 Porter Road on June 23 and 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and at the Family Health Unit located on the second floor of the Bettito Frett Building on June 22 to 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Caribbean Regional Testing Day’s objective is to heighten public awareness on the critical importance of voluntary counseling and testing in preventing the spread of HIV infection and to mobilise the population to access HIV testing. It also serves to provide a unique opportunity to advance universal access to prevention services in the Virgin Islands.