Thursday, June 20, 2024

San Pedro observes National AIDS Testing Day 2019


To commemorate National AIDS Testing Day, the National AIDS Commission along with San Pedro’s AIDs Commission and the Ministry of Health held a free HIV testing day at the Central Park in San Pedro Town on Friday, June 28th. Held under the theme, “No Man Left Behind,” the activity was a huge success.
The event ran from 9AM until 3PM and in San Pedro saw 84 participants being tested, with a high number being first-time testers. In the end, a total of 51 men and 33 women were tested. The age range of participants was from 16 – 60, with the highest number of participants averaging 25-39 years.
Dennis Craft from the San Pedro AIDS Commission is excited to see activism picking back up. “The HIV Awareness movement had come to a screeching halt, and activism within the past years had pretty much stopped. We are excited to announce that past members of both groups have decided to come together to form a new committee, which we hope will be able to close this gap and get the work going! With this said, we are inviting individuals that would like to volunteer. We will be announcing a meeting to be held within the next month where officers will be elected, and a plan for moving forward will be formulated.”
The San Pedro AIDS Commission secured 75 plates of food that were offered to individuals getting tested. They would like to extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the following entities that were instrumental in making this exercise a huge success: Sandbar, Pineapples Restaurant, Lina Point Overwater, Mimi’s Burgers, Carmen Eiley, Socorro Vasquez, Wild Mango’s, Blue Water Grill, the students of Washington University of Health and Science and other volunteers. For more information or to submit your name as a volunteer; kindly contact Dennis Craft – 501-629-5211 or David Jenkins 501-624-7043.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the late stage of the Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV) infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. HIV is a virus that is spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. Opportunistic infections or cancers then take advantage of the weak immune system and signals that the person has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Some symptoms of HIV/AIDS include nausea, vomiting, persistent diarrhea, chronic fatigue, rapid weight loss, cough and shortness of breath, recurring fever, chills, and night sweats, rashes, sores, or lesions in the mouth or nose, on the genitals, or under the skin.
Steps can be taken to protect yourself from HIV infection, such as getting tested and knowing your partner’s HIV status, always using a condom, limiting your number of sexual partners, and getting tested and treated for Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Belizeans are always advised to visit their nearest health center and check their status regularly. Here in San Pedro Town, free HIV tests are available at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II.

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