Residents in Antigua and Barbuda continue to be warned against the imminent threat of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially since Covid-19 restrictions have become increasingly relaxed.
The threat of contracting HIV, more specifically, has been highlighted by health professionals as people may be tempted to throw caution to the wind after facing curfews and lockdowns during the pandemic.
Programme Manager in the AIDS Secretariat, Delcora Williams, has urged individuals against letting their guards down.
She is further exhorting those who are sexually active to maintain a practice of safe sex since HIV has been coexisting with Covid-19 in the last two years and has not gone anywhere.
Williams said this was one of the main reasons why free HIV testing remaines accessible during the pandemic.
“Most persons, unless you check every year, you would not know that you have become infected during the Covid period. You might see the effects in about six years when that person starts becoming ill, and then they go to the doctor and get an HIV test and the doctor tells them that they are infected,” Williams told Observer in an interview.
According to Williams, the AIDS Secretariat cannot confirm whether there has been an increase or decrease in people being tested for HIV due to the logistical challenges experienced by many healthcare providers across the world as a result of Covid protocols and restrictions.
The Programme Manager explained that the statistics pre-Covid and now are not comparable due to the complete change in the methodology of testing carried out by the AIDS Secretariat.
“We changed our whole way of testing because of the pandemic, so where persons could have just walked in and gotten a test done, we don’t do that anymore. What we do is make appointments because we have to clean after each person, so we have a half an hour between each person.”
Free testing is still conducted at the AIDS Secretariat on Long Street by appointments only. For more information, please contact (268) 462-5975.