Minister’s message for World AIDS Day

| 30/11/2017
CNS Local Life

Dwayne Seymour

(Minister for Health Dwayne Seymour): As the festive season approaches, it is always a poignant time of year for people who have lost loved ones, particularly those who have succumbed to an illness such as HIV and AIDS. It is important, therefore, that we observe World AIDS Day on 1 December to highlight the risks of the virus and remind everyone of the ways in which the transmission of the virus can be prevented.

Cayman AIDS Foundation does a wonderful job year-round, partnering with the Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority, as well as the Cayman Islands Red Cross, to educate people in the community about HIV and AIDS.

I hope you will join members of Cayman AIDS Foundation at their World AIDS Day ceremony to be held for the first time at the Public Beach on West Bay Road, on Friday (1 December) at 6:30pm. The family-oriented event is open to all – you can even bring along your pet.

There will be an opportunity to light and release a biodegradable Chinese lantern in memory of a loved one, as well as enjoy an evening of fellowship and food. Tickets for refreshments and a lantern can be reserved in advance from the Cayman AIDS Foundation office.

HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives, according to statistics from the World Health Organization. Last year alone, one million people died from HIV-related causes around the world and, by the end of 2016, 36.7 million were living with HIV.

Here in the Cayman Islands, we have 69 persons living with HIV, and 153 confirmed cases of HIV since the virus was first identified in 1985.

It is imperative to remember there is no cure for HIV infections. However, effective antiretroviral drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives.

As per the World Health Organization’s theme of “Right to Health for this year’s World AIDS Day, we strive to provide the best quality healthcare possible for all persons living with HIV in the Cayman Islands. The right to health is a fundamental human right and every person must be able to access the appropriate health services that they need.

But we want to halt the transmission of the virus, so I implore people to use protection and adopt safe sexual practices.

The partner agencies are also offering free HIV testing until 2 December at district health centres, the Cayman AIDS Foundation office at Caymanian Village, and the Red Cross location at Huldah Avenue, as well as Seven Mile Beach Medical Clinic.

This gives persons the chance to access free health services to check whether they are free of the virus, or seek immediate medical attention if required. All results are completely confidential.

The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, only 70 per cent of people living with HIV know their status, so please don’t risk your own life, or your partner’s life; the test is simple and quick. Of course, if you cannot attend the free testing sessions, you can make an appointment with your GP for a more convenient time.

HIV has no boundaries and everyone is at risk, whether Caymanian or expat, so this is a good moment to remind ourselves and others to be responsible at all times.

Lastly, let us remember our people who lost the battle with HIV and left this life all too soon. As we mark World AIDS Day, we pray for the family and friends of those who have passed, and we pray for the continued good health of individuals who are living with the virus.

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Category: Medical and Health

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