As St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) comes out of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment (MOHWE) is urging the public to start on a new health slate by prioritizing testing for HIV/AIDS.
This is the advice from Roselle Solomon, Social Worker with the MOHWE who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on the sidelines of World AIDS Day activities which is commemorated on December 1.
“What we are hoping for, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that people know their status…start fresh. We are back out, we are socializing so let’s know where we stand medically in terms of overall health.”
The theme for World Aids Day 2022 is ‘Equalize’ and Solomon said the MOHWE is focused on eliminating the inequalities in access to testing.
“Testing is available countrywide, with the theme ‘Equalize’ we are looking not only at increasing the availability of testing, access to testing but also we want to make sure we decrease stigma and discrimination. It’s about those inequalities that prevent persons from coming forward for testing.”
The event, which was hosted at the car park of the Old Ministerial building, saw a steady stream of persons going to be tested.
Solomon said the Ministry is pushing to end the stigma and discrimination for persons who are HIV positive, and also educate the public about the opportunities for care after a diagnosis.
“Even with a HIV diagnosis we still want to push wellness…even with an HIV diagnosis persons can be productive, they can work… access at clinic, take your medication, make sure you exercise and for who are still discriminating and stopping individuals from accessing and maintaining employment, everyone needs to live a productive life.
The event also included a breast cancer awareness booth and general health testing services including blood pressure, blood sugar and nutrition facts.