Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joy St. John????

Regional Testing Day, which will be commemorated on June 27, will continue to draw on the resources of the region’s health ministries. This will be no different in Barbados.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John intimated this today, as she addressed the launch of Regional Testing Day 2010, at Hilton Barbados, jointly hosted by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) on HIV/ AIDS and Scotia Bank Caribbean.

Reiterating the Health Ministry’s commitment to the regional initiative, Dr. St. John said a dedicated HIV testing team comprising a cadre of well trained counselors/social workers and volunteers would conduct the HIV testing and the supportive counselling here on Friday, June 25, at eight locations.

Providing an overview of the logistical arrangements for that day, she explained: "Our aim is to maximise the uptake of the number of persons coming forward to be tested for HIV on Regional Testing Day 2010 and, since it falls on a Sunday, we have decided to conduct the mass testing campaign on Friday, June 25 2010, … and ensure access to the Scotiabank branches during working hours."

??She added too that other targeted activities would be undertaken on Saturday, June 26, ??such as reaching out to most at risk populations with the option of ???after hours’ testing "where feasible."

On Friday, June 25, the testing sites will comprise Scotia Bank locations at Broad Street, Wildey, Haggatt Hall, Hastings, Warrens, Holetown and Black Rock, with the eighth at Independence Square, "to further capitalise on the large numbers of persons who pass through Bridgetown or will come there to be tested for HIV."

??Testing services at all sites commence at 9:00 a.m. and finish at 6:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, June 26, testing would take place at two main locations, Emerald City in St. Philip and Heroes Square in Bridgetown.

In urging the public to get tested, Dr. St. John stressed the Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) coordinators at each site would have a team to provide the counselling required before testing, assisted by phlebotomists, who will take blood from these clients.

While noting that last year a record number of persons in Barbados came forward to be tested for HIV, she indicted it was "undoubtedly a testimony to the influential power of the media CBMP and Scotiabank."

And, she challenged Barbadians to help the island surpass that number adding: "We must remember that HIV testing is a critical public health tool and a key part of our strategy in the prevention and control of HIV, not only in Barbados but in the region and the world."

Over 1,500 persons were tested when the Ministry of Health undertook two days of Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) for HIV in 2009.??

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