By Theresa Goodwin
In lieu of Regional Testing Day, which has not been held in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the AIDS Secretariat is making allowances to ensure that residents are still able to benefit from free HIV testing and counselling at their own convenience.
As of Friday, staff at the secretariat will be extending their hours of operation until 5 pm to give people an opportunity to get tested and to know their HIV status. Similar accommodations will also be made the following Saturday.
“On Saturday, we are going to be opened from 8:30 and we are going right down until 3 o’clock so that people can come in, get tested and know their HIV status. Usually during Regional Testing Day we open on the weekend so that persons can get tested, but because we were not open, a lot of persons did not get the opportunity to do that in over two years,” said Delcora Williams, Head of the National HIV/AIDS programme.
Regional Testing Day is usually held within the last week of June every year and the department is accustomed to partnering with its sponsors to conduct mass testing and counselling sessions.
The pandemic and the requirement for social distancing and limiting gatherings have placed a halt on any such activities.
To facilitate the testing over the weekend, residents are asked to contact the Secretariat at 462-5975 or 462-5035 to book an appointment to schedule testing.
“You will need a government issued ID because the information has to be entered in our database, and your card if you have tested with us before, so it can be updated. And people making appointments are being encouraged to keep them because someone else will be scheduled 20 minutes later in keeping in line with Covid-19 protocols,” Williams said.
Williams is encouraging everyone to take advantage of the free testing opportunities, as she reminded them that care and treatment are available free of cost if they test positive for the virus.