December 1st, 2017 is World AIDS Day and Dominica will join the rest of the world in its observance under the theme “My Health, My Right”. The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) theme focuses on the right to health and explores the challenges people around the world face in exercising their rights. The campaign reminds people that the right to health is much more than access to quality health services and medicines, that it also depends on a range of important assurances including, adequate sanitation and housing, healthy working conditions, a clean environment and access to justice.
The National HIV and AIDS Response Programme, of the Ministry of Health and Environment in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS –(PANCAP) is partnering with the Dominica Planned Parenthood Association, Jolly’s Pharmacy, Caribbean HIV and AIDS Partnership( CHAP), National Youth Council (NYC) ,Youth Arm Movement (YAM), and FOUCHE – (a support group for persons leaving and affected by HIV). in the world AIDS Day campaign which was launched in Dominica on November 16, 2017.
“One of the primary focus is right to health at all levels and explore challenges people face as in the situation we now face here in Dominica,” said Lester Guye, Acting National Coordinator of The National HIV and AIDS Response Programme. For us in Dominica, it is imperative that we remain on that path as we seek to meet the needs of our public after such devastation of Hurricane Maria.”
The hurricane has interrupted the health structural system and also destroyed many testing sites across the Island.Despite the setback, the Unit will observe World AIDS Day on December 1st”, he stated. The Counsellor and Psychotherapist noted that in post-trauma peoples’ coping mechanisms are most time unhealthy and affect their behaviour. In addition, because of severe loss of employment, transactional sex may have increased. Therefore the Unit is considering the resumption of testing of paramount importance.
Activities for World AIDS Day will include:
1. HIV Rapid testing at sites that are functional
2. Providing Behavioral Change Education (BCE) as it relates to sexual health to encourage healthy coping
3. Media programmes
4. Demonstration of the correct use of condoms
5. Educational sessions on HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections
6. Sensitization on the prevention of gender-based violence
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.