SVG considered for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment campaign
January 29, 2013
SVG considered for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment campaign

This country may be one of two Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) territories where an intense HIV/AIDS testing and treatment campaign, will be rolled out in the near future.{{more}}

Following an assessment by Dr Everold Hosein, senior communications advisor-consultant, Communication for Behavioural Impact with the World Health Organization, recommendations will be made as to which countries will be used to encourage testing and treatment for HIV.

Hosein visited St Vincent and the Grenadines last week, for a two-day conversation with health care practitioners, agencies and the media, to find a way forward in the fight against the disease.

On Friday, during a meeting with community nurses and the media at the Ministry of Health’s conference room, the communications expert said that the main focus of his research is to see what can be done to increase testing.

“It seems that everything begins with testing … If we can get more people tested, then we can get more people into treatment.”

Hosein said that based on his observations to date, there is a high demand for testing in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the OECS on a whole.

He said that his observation is that, in most cases, people who come for testing are of the view that they are HIV negative, and they are coming in to get a reconfirmation that such is the case.

“The bigger challenge, however, is with those who are not getting tested. And it seems from the conversations that I’ve had, the view is those who are not getting tested suspect that they might be HIV positive.

“The big communication challenge then, is how do you get that individual to take that step of getting tested and then getting on treatment.

“So when you ask the general question of those folks who may suspect that they are HIV positive, ‘Why don’t you get tested?’ the standard answer I get is: ‘I don’t want to know…’

“They say they don’t want to deal with the whole business of stigma and discrimination … And because they don’t want to have to deal with the whole medical treatment system and having to take this whole set of pills every day and just having to constantly worry about the disease.”

He said that it is his hope that at the end of the consultations and campaigns more persons would come forward to get tested, and receive the necessary treatment which would help them to live as long and healthy lives as possible.

Meanwhile, head of the National AIDS Secretariat Dr Del Hamilton pointed out that more steps have been taken, and continue to be taken to increase and improve the HIV testing services around St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Hamilton said that more testing sites are to be set up in various locations, as well as the training for nurses who would conduct counselling and testing.

Hamilton said a training session for counselling and testing was concluded in December and another is scheduled for February.

“… following that one, we will try to have additional training in the year if there are more persons needing training.

“We … have trained maybe by now, close to 200 persons, primarily nurses, and this was done to provide the services…” she further said.

Meanwhile, Hosein said that the two OECS territories to be selected for the campaign would be chosen at the end of his assessments.

He left for St Kitts on Saturday for the last leg of the assessment.