PRESS RELEASE – Regional Testing Day 2016 will be launched in Saint Lucia today (Wednesday), with an aim to end the regional HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
One year short of its 10th anniversary in 2017, the goal is to test at least 100,000 people in the Caribbean by 2017.
The activity is held under the aegis of the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) on HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Partnership on HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), with support from Scotiabank.
CBMP Executive Director Dr. Allyson Leacock said: “We are proud to have been partners in contributing to the Caribbean region’s distinction of being the first to register success with no babies born with HIV and we are confident that our collective efforts will reap that success as we mark the 10th anniversary of Regional Testing Day in 2017.
“The CBMP-coordinated Regional Testing Day has contributed to the achievement of this strategic objective. This year’s activities will focus on expanding access to high quality evidence-based and appropriately targeted packages of prevention services while expanding access for key populations and further reducing the stigma and discrimination.
“Through the Annual Regional Testing Day activities and our collective efforts with outstanding support from Scotiabank; PANCAP, Ministries of Health and Caribbean media, have contributed to increased awareness and participation.”
Dr. Leacock said that despite these successes, national and regional responses continue to be challenged by access to prevention services and HIV testing, as well as structural barriers like the stigma and discrimination that impede key affected populations such as gay men, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, drug users, and youth.
Since RTD was launched in 2008, 70,000 people have been tested.
Regional Testing Day 2015 was a resounding success with 16, 655 people testing across the Caribbean. Of those, 110 people tested positive for the HIV virus.
The impact of the LIVE UP social media efforts of the campaign has proven beneficial with the Facebook data for 2015 showing the use of social media by younger audiences and others totalling over 180,000 engaged and requesting information about Regional Testing Day.