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National Testing Day sees shift in public response

The National Aids Commission held the annual National HIV testing Day. It was held simultaneously across the country. In Belize City it was held at the Battlefield Park. Arthur Usher Communications and Programs Officer at the National Aids Commission told us more.

Arthur Usher, Communications and Programs Office, NAC: “Again the idea is to bring people out to get there free HIV testing. Our theme this year is ‘90,90,90 by 2020’ it’s a UN AIDS theme program the idea is that we want to get 90% of those who are HIV positive tested, 90% of those who are tested on medication and 90% of those who are on medication we want them to get their viral load suppressed meaning that the trace of the virus is very low. So the first pillar is testing, so we ar testing today.

Reporter: What has been the response of the public in Belize City today?

Arthur Usher, Communications and Programs Office, NAC: “Well it’s been very good actually. What we were looking for and hoping for was a shift in behavior in terms of the male population so we really wanted to achieve getting more men tested and I think we’ve achieved that today. What we’ve seen also is a lot of couples coming out to get tested which is a good indication of where they are in terms of their relationship and stuff like that. So I think it’s basically good health seeking behaviors we are looking forward to.”

Reporter: What about the availability of medication for HIV and the costs for Belizeans?

Arthur Usher, Communications and Programs Office, NAC: “The Ministry of Health provides the medication free of charge so that again helps us with meeting the 90,90, the second 90 which is the adherence. So if the medication is free and you can go in and access the medication that helps in terms of keeping you on your medication and which would then  help the third 90 which is viral load suppression.”

The event also saw live art displays by local artists and the art pieces will be donated to the Commission’s partner agencies.