Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 05, 2018 (SKNIS): The 2018 theme for World AIDS Day “Know Your Status” is timely and appropriate said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Delores Stapleton-Harris, during a press conference on Tuesday, December 04.

“The choice of this years’ theme is certainly not accidental. Rather, it is meant to remind the world that the war against HIV/AIDS begins with each of us; each person being aware of his or her status via testing. For it has been found that there are far too many persons living with HIV who are not receiving treatment or care,” she said.

In her address to observe World AIDS Day on December 01, Minister of State with responsibility for Health, the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps said that “The theme also reminds us that although 75 percent of the persons living with HIV are aware of their status, there are still far too many persons living with HIV who are (a) unaware of their status and (b) not receiving treatment, care or prevention services.”

The press conference, which formed part of the local activities to commemorate World AIDS Day (December 01), was aimed at promoting the importance of testing through increased public awareness. Community leaders, including parliamentarians, permanent secretaries, heads of departments, representatives of faith-based organizations and business executives, attended the event and used the occasion to set an example for others in their respective communities by getting tested.

The permanent secretary added that a week of activities has been planned to achieve a number of objectives and to solicit the support of the general public for their prevention and management of HIV/AIDS. Objectives include: increasing public awareness of the significance and benefits of testing for HIV; accelerating efforts to achieving the 90-90-90 universal targets; facilitating an increase in the number of persons testing for HIV/AIDS, and garnering support from persons in leadership roles to fight against HIV/AIDS.

The UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative states that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Other activities include Work Place and Key Population Testing on December 05 and 06. The National Testing Day on December 07, will see health care workers set up booths in the Independence Square to test members of the public for HIV and also provide them with information.