Since 1998, December 1 has been set aside, around the world to raise awareness of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) pandemic, which is a result of the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. On this day also, those who succumbed to the disease are mourned.
This year, like years in the past The Grand Bahama Health Services and the Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee, join the world in spreading awareness on the deadly virus. This year, both entities have been supported by PharmaChem Technologies.
Katie Saunders, Nursing Manager, Surveillance Unit, Grand Bahama Health Services spoke of the essence of the special day during a press conference at the Rand Memorial Hospital on Friday November 30.
“On December 1, the Grand Bahama Health Services and the Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee, will join global partners to commemorate World AIDS Day, under the theme, ‘Know your Status.’
To this end, the team will be in the parking lot downtown, today, between 9:00 a.m.. to 3:00 p.m. performing rapid HIV tests.
“HIV testing is essential for persons to know their HIV status, therefore lending to early detection and treatment, ensuring that persons living with HIV, lead healthy and productive lives within the society.
“It is also crucial to achieving the 90/90 targets in that 90 percent of persons living with HIV know their status and that 90 percent of persons diagnosed with HIV are on treatment and finally, 90 percent of persons on treatment are virally suppressed.
“We are so pleased that PharmaChem Technologies has partnered with us in hosting this ambitious event, in the Downtown Parking Lot.”
She added that the rapid testing is quite simple and persons taking the test can rest assured that the results will remain highly confidential.
“The test is easy as one, two, three and might I add four. You register; you get council; get a small finger prick and receive your confidential results in 15 minutes.
“An HIV information booth will be there. We will have a bouncing castle to entertain the kids while parents are being tested. We will also provide traditional treats along with raffles and giveaways.
“Thanks again to PharmaChem for sponsoring this timely event, to assist us in reducing the barriers of HIV testing outside of a medical facility, meeting people where they are, and ultimately reducing transmission of HIV,” concluded Saunders.
Afrika Karamo-Miller. Chairperson, GBAAC gave remarks also.
“The Grand Bahama AIDS Awareness Committee is committed to spreading its message of HIV /AIDS awareness, education and prevention.
“We are delighted to have the support of our main sponsor, PharmanChem Technologies on World AIDS Day, along with smaller sponsors like Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, to be uniting, in cooperation with the GBHS testing. Our fun run walk cycle event’a aim is to mobilize the Grand Bahama community at large, to know your status while working up a sweat.
“The HIV/AIDS fun run walk cycle is scheduled to begin at 6:00 a.m at PharmaChem Technologies. The run/walk is roughly about 3.1 miles and our cycle route is about 14 miles. Registration is ongoing and will be accepted onsite at 6:00 a.m.
“Again, we want to thank our sponsor PharmaChem and also GBHS for their partnership and commitment to ensure that the Grand Bahama community members know their status,” noted Karamo-Miller.
Randy Thompson. Chief Executive Officer (CEO of PharmaChem Technologies said the company was pleased to work with the two organizations, for such a worthy cause.
“PharaChem is pleased to partner with the GBAWC and the GBHS, as we observe World AIDS Day, here in The Bahamas and around the world. It is a day that we set aside to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and we also mourn those who have died from the disease.
“Many of you are aware that PharmaChem has partnered with Gilead Sciences, a bio pharmaceutical company, based in California, to manufacture their active ingredient for a highly successful HIV and AIDS drug, for the past 15 years. Right in our own backyard, here in Freeport, PharaChem has been front and center in the fight against HIV/AIDS, producing the active ingredient to treat one million HIV/AIDS patients around the world. This is but a drop in the bucket when you consider that there are more than 36 million people, worldwide, living with HIV.
“The fight must continue, particularly here in The Bahamas where we have the highest HIV adult prevalent rate in the Caribbean. We must educate and remove the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Today, there are treatments available for people who are infected, or at risk of exposure. We encourage you to go and get tested; knowing is the first step,” he said.
Thompson shared that this is the first time PharmaChem has partnered with the GBHS for such an initiative but it certainly will not be the last.
“We are going to do more. We have made a commitment to the various committees to support and so every year we will be on board” stated the PharmaChem Technologies CEO.