The Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has begun a special project that provides HIV and STI testing services, for students and staff of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Senior Medical Officer of Health (Communicable Diseases), Dr. Anton Best, in outlining the rationale of this project noted that it was conceptualised in January 2007 by the Health Ministry and UWI’s HIV/AIDS Regional Programme (UWI HARP) with the aim of improving access to HIV testing services on the Cave Hill Campus. At present, the focus is to build the capacity of the medical staff of UWI’s Health Centre to perform routine HIV testing and counseling.

"My vision is for the Ministry to assist in building capacity at the Health Centre of the UWI Cave Hill Campus to offer comprehensive sexual health services, including the provision of screening tests for HIV and STIs," said Dr. Best.

He added: "It is also hoped that, as a result of this initiative, a more long-term collaborative effort will be developed to continue what is believed to be a fundamental part of Sexual Health Services, already being provided at Cave Hill."

To kick start this endeavour, a special campaign was started on October 19 and is due to run for four weeks. This project entails the provision of daily HIV testing services on campus. These services will be provided by staff of the Ministry of Health, which will seek to extend key aspects of the campaign, mainly HIV testing for UWI, beyond the stipulated time frame.

This PAHO-funded project is being financed through a grant from the Global Fund to the tune of some US$7,000 USD, which has so far seen health care providers who work at the Cave Hill Health Centre trained in HIV testing. Coordinators of the project from the Ministry of Health are Senior Counsellor with responsibility for HIV Testing, Bazil Hunte, and Health Promotion Officer (AIDS), Mrs. Norma Bynoe.

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