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HSA & Red Cross Provide Free HIV/STI Testing in Honour of World Aids Day

As part of this year’s activities for World AIDS Day, globally recognized on 1 December, the Health Services Authority’s Public Health Department and the Cayman Islands Red Cross will join forces for a week of free HIV and STI testing and counselling.

Each year people around the world unite to show support for persons living with and affected by HIV and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives to AIDS.

“The leadership and engagement of communities has been instrumental in the success of the HIV/AIDS response and has also been key in responding to COVID-19,” said STI and HIV Programme Coordinator Laura Elniski. “We have seen countless examples of how community activism and solidarity have, once again, been paramount in providing people affected by HIV with information, services, social protection and hope.”

She added that such solidarity, however, cannot be the sole responsibility of communities. “Governments, donors, faith leaders, civil society and everyone needs to contribute to making the world a healthier place, which is why Public Health and our local Red Cross chose to team up to offer this free and important service to the public. We are trying to do our part.”

HIV and STI testing and counselling will be by appointment only due to COVID-19 restrictions. To book an appointment email Laura Elniski at laura.whitefield@hsa.ky  or call 244-2507 or 244-2632.

A meditation session to promote mental health will also be held at the Cayman Islands Red Cross at 6:30pm on 1 December to promote mental health and solidarity within the AIDS community. In addition, HSA and the Cayman Islands Red Cross will present a virtual session featuring a discussion of HIV and AIDS on Thursday, 3 December from 6:30pm – 7:30pm. The session is open to the public. To register, email deputy@redcross.org.ky.

On 1 December Jasmine (formerly Hospice Care) invites the public to join them at their annual “Light up a Life” at 5:30pm to celebrate loved ones who are no longer with us by placing a light on their remembrance tree, which will remain lit throughout the season. They have extended the invitation to families whose loved ones have passed away from AIDS.

Mrs. Elniski said the defeat of AIDS as a public health threat depends on how the world responds to COVID-19.

“This year the COVID-19 has demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe,” declared STI and HIV Programme Coordinator Laura Elniski. “Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches are crucial to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19,” she explained.

“On this World AIDS day let us work together and share the responsibility of achieving a healthier society.”

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