Annual pre-Valentines HIV/AIDS testing programme kickstarts tomorrow

The National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) will be kickstarting its annual “Test of love” activity on Saturday, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said the annual event has been seeing almost 80,000 couples turning out to be tested each year.

“This programme is an annual programme that we have been doing for a number of years now, and really it is to get couples to come in and get tested around Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, M.P

He is encouraging persons, especially younger couples, to come out and be tested. He said the programme helps persons know their HIV/AIDS status.

“It is something that we do to just make sure that people are aware, especially younger persons…and we encourage everyone who think they might be at risk for HIV to come in to one of our sites, and they can get tested and, in this case, what we’re encouraging them to do is to come with their partners, so it’s one way of celebrating valentine’s day,” he said.

Testing will be done at various locations, including Mon Repos Market Square, City Mall, Demico House car park, Georgetown Seawalls and Giftland Mall in Region Four.

Other locations are the Parika Market Square in Region Three, For the Children Sake in Region 10 and Hope Foundation in Region Seven.

Moreover, with implementations currently being made, it is the government’s hope to see an end to HIV/AIDS in the country by 2030.

During his address in commemoration of World AIDS Day, two months ago, the minister had stated that despite the effects of the pandemic, this goal is still realistic.

“Despite COVID we can work to end AIDS by 2030. This has been a dream for a lot of people for a long time. If we stay on track and if we work hard, we can be able to do that, and that’s what we have to set our sights on,” he noted.

 Among the measures being advanced is the introduction of pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which will reduce the risk of infection in persons who have been exposed to the virus.  The Ministry of Health is also working to re-enforce sexual education in the school system, while encouraging more persons to get tested for the disease.