Health official: Do the right thing and get HIV tested Friday



Basseterre, St. Kitts – Everyone who participates in Friday’s Regional Testing Day (RTD) in St. Kitts and Nevis will dip to receive prizes ranging from cell phone top ups to dinner vouchers at some of the finest restaurants to tickets on the scenic railway. However, National AIDS Coordinator Gardenia Destang-Richardson said people should get tested because it is the right thing to do.

“Incentives are used only in special occasions during promotional campaigns,” said Destang-Richardson. The 10th year anniversary of RTD – which will reportedly be observed by 21 countries in the Caribbean and targets testing 100,000 people for HIV/AIDS – is certainly one of those special occasions, she said.

However, the senior health official noted “just the fact that you want to know, you want to be healthy should be the incentive for you to get tested.”

Testing areas include the temporary stations at Independence Square; the parking lots of Best Buy, Buckley’s, or RAMS; Bird Rock in Basseterre; or in front of the Nevis Island Administration building in Charlestown. Visitors will find a quick and easy process with a high level of professionalism and confidentiality. After a small amount of blood is tested, the results are available in just 12 minutes.

But the National AIDS coordinator said she would like to see people making wiser lifestyle decisions. “Really and truly, we try to encourage [people] to take responsibility for their health, not just their sexual health,” she explained. “Go have your annual physical, and part of that should be your HIV test.”

Health officials are hoping to test 1,000 people for HIV in the month of June – one hundred for each year of RTD. If the public responds the way Destang-Richardson hopes, that number will be easily surpassed.