By John Denny
(Charlestown, Nevis ) – Cable and Wireless will be providing $10 top-ups for the first 100 men who get tested for HIV at the Villa grounds this Saturday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This will be the second national testing day held in Nevis and it is scheduled close to Father’s Day to encourage men to get tested, according to Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd. She is the Acting Health Planner and HIV/AIDS Coordinator of the Nevis HIV/AIDS Unit on Nevis.
The event themed “Take the test, take control” and “Men know your status; protect you, protect me, protect us” would target fathers because women were the ones who had primarily received testing for the disease.
“Our target audience this time around is primarily men because we realize that in comparison to women, men are under-tested here in Nevis, so we are targeting them this time around,” she said. “We are not excluding women, though. Anyone can get tested if they come to the Villa on Saturday.”
On the last National Testing Day this past December, the Unit tested 42 persons and one of those was found to be positive.
“We had the last one on a weekday and a lot of people couldn’t come that wanted to because they were working,” she said. “Hopefully this time we will have a bigger turnout. Another change from the last testing day is that everyone who goes through the whole process will get the results of their test in about an hour, not in a day or so.”
The event is being sponsored privately without funding from the Administration, Mrs. Liburd said.
The event was initially planned for June 27 to coincide with the world wide observance of National Testing Day. It was moved up to the day before Fathers Day because it was important to get men involved in the testing.
The free testing will be a three step confidential process which would involve voluntary counseling and testing.
“The process would be voluntary counseling and testing so it won’t be persons just coming in and getting the test but we will ensure that you are well prepared with the pre-test counseling, you will receive the test and then go to post-test counseling and this will all take place in one location. We have about six nurse counselors that will be based right here at the Villa in individual make shift room so we will ensure total confidentiality through this process.
“Our lab will be down on the field also so you could get your rapid test done privately of course and everyone will be assigned a code. We won’t be using any names you will be going for your pre-test counseling to that same nurse and you would be returning to her for your results. So we will ensure total confidentiality through this process,” she said.
It has been documented that HIV can spread from mother to child and men have a role to play in that process as well, so it was important that they knew their status to avoid passing the virus on and to keep themselves healthy to provide the necessary financial support for their children, she noted.
“So for Father’s Day don’t just give that gift to yourself but to your family,” she said.
Notwithstanding, Mrs. Liburd commended the sponsors who had joined the Ministry of Health’s initiative to stage the activity and said the move showed the Unit’s multi-sectored approach to HIV testing on Nevis.
She also spoke to an incentive from the two main private sector sponsors.
“Two of our major sponsors are Carino Nevis and Cable and Wireless and they are offering for the first 100 persons that come forward and take the test they will receive a $10 top up on that day, so you have to go through the entire three step process and you will receive the $10 top up,” she said.
Other sponsors are Caribbean Cable Communications, Reliable Motors and Surrey Paving. The Ultimate Band will would provide DJ services and live music during the activity. Mrs. Liburd said the activity would be held in a festive atmosphere with music and refreshments to encourage the men to spend the day with the Nevis HIV/AIDS Unit.