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Testing centres expanded

Brownies and Blossoms who donated items to the HIV/AIDS Food Bank.

Barbadians now have additional options for the testing of HIV and AIDS.

Minister of Health Donville Innis informed an HIV Research Symposium at the Savannah Hotel yesterday morning, that access to testing facilities have been expanded, with the Ladymeade Reference Unit no longer the only point for the management and care of the virus.

He said rapid testing has already started at the Winston Scott Polyclinic and would soon be introduced at other public and private health institutions across the island.

“We have also recognised that in addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination, diagnosis, care and management of such illnesses, that we have to decentralise it. We are beginning to have a situation where gone would be the days where the Ladymeade Reference Unit being the point where care and management take place here in Barbados. I am happy to report that we have currently, two polyclinics, that we can say, the care and management will be decentralised to,” added the Minister of Health.

He identified the two facilities as Maurice Byer in the north and Randall Phillips in the South where those who would be diagnosed with HIV could not get their necessary care and treatment, without having to go to LRU, “and where some malicious Bajan can stand at the road side and accuse you and figure that they know your health status by seeing where you are going.”

Inniss said the mother-to-child transmission of the virus was also very critical.

He revealed that up until October this year, there had been no reported cases of transmission of HIV from child to mother.

The Minister of Health also argued that as policy-makers it was important to take decisions in the interests of the wider community, even if those decisions were unpopular.

“It is never easy in these positions, in that sometimes you know you have to take decisions that [are] in the best interest of the country but you are afraid of the backlash that you will get. And that is why issues such as decriminalisation of homosexuality, lowering the age at which individuals can access medical care in Barbados, are issues that we have to put on the front burner,” pointed out Inniss.

He suggested that as policy makers, they must lead the battle and not to cower in silence, believing these things would go away, “or are afraid that those who call the call-in programmes, represent the entire views of the country.”

“We must not as policy makers, be afraid to take decisions that we deem to be in the best interest of the country,” the Minister of Health urged.††(EJ)†

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