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30 HIV tests conducted at SPC for World AIDS DAY

SPC Press Release

30 HIV tests conducted at SPC for World AIDS DAY

Noumea, Monday 4 December 2006 – More than 30 people took part in voluntary confidential counselling and testing on Saturday 2 December at SPC, which is half the average number of tests usually conducted in an entire month by the local health NGOs in New Caledonia.

The voluntary confidential counselling and testing was offered as one of the events organised by SPC to mark World AIDS Day in collaboration with the NGOs Comit© de Lutte contre le SIDA and Solidarity© SIDA.

“Voluntary confidential counselling and testing means people with HIV can take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners, while people who test negative get the information they need to stay healthy,” said HIV & STI Section Head at SPC Dr Dennie Iniakwala. “At the end of the day, it is the individual who is responsible for her or his actions and therefore each person needs to know more about HIV so that she or he can make informed decisions. They can also share this information with others to assist people in reducing risks and making choices in terms of prevention. Voluntary confidential counselling and testing also informs us of how many people may require treatment and helps us to collate data and understand trends.”

Music and laughter resonated throughout the SPC gardens as the public took part in theatre and circus workshops, wandered through a maze of World AIDS Day artwork and a photo exhibition on “Getting partners tested”, danced to the beat of African and Polynesian drumming, or entered quiz games on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Dr Iniakwala noted that “World AIDS Day is a wonderful opportunity not only to talk more about HIV and its impact but also to work with the local community beyond the context of our normal work programme.”

SPC also commemorated World AIDS Day on Friday 1 December with presentations to staff on the situation of HIV and other STIs in the Pacific and what it is doing about them. In the past two years the HIV & STI Section of SPC has re-positioned itself to manage, monitor and evaluate the Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS. The HIV & STI Section has grown from a handful to nearly 20 staff to be able to effectively respond to the complex challenges in the region of HIV and other STIs.

World AIDS Day began in 1998 as a UNAIDS initiative to raise awareness, fight prejudice and improve education on HIV and AIDS. It has been an effective tool in reminding people that HIV has not gone away and that there are many things that still need to be done.

In 2005, the campaign was taken over by an independent organisation known as the World AIDS Campaign (WAC), with the slogan Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise. The slogan is an appeal to governments, policy-makers and regional health authorities to ensure that they meet the many targets that have been set in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Ends

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