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HIV Testing Week: Are You Positive You Are Negative?

June 20, 2008 – Joining the National HIV Testing Campaign (June 27) and the National Caribbean HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (June 8), Virgin Islands Community AIDS Resource and Education Inc. (VICARE) is launching a weeklong testing campaign beginning on Monday, June 23, at the St. Croix Community Center.
"As a person living with HIV since 2003, regular HIV testing gave me an advantage in knowing my status at the onset of contracting HIV. Knowing your status early allows one to monitor their health situation at the initial stages and reduce the spread of HIV. Considering the high concentration of HIV in the Virgin Islands and the recent Youth Risk Behavior Study, which found that over 40 percent of sexually active youth in the V.I. had unprotected sex at their last sexual encounter, we need to be very concerned. Teen pregnancy is high as well as the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)," said Bruce Smail, chief executive officer of VICARE.
"The latest CDC data indicated that the V.I. is ranked second for the highest per capita (per 100,000) rate of HIV and third for AIDS. These statistics are alarming and our local numbers are almost non-existent for our youth. The inconsistency between high STI/teen pregnancy rates and very low incidence of HIV/AIDS in our teens suggest that our youth are not being tested for HIV, and we may have a higher youth incidence rate for HIV in the Virgin Islands. Stigma around HIV and teen sex may inhibit the opportunity for youth to be tested, but ignoring this population does not absolve the risks inherent in unprotected sex and high incidence of STIs and teen pregnancies," he said.
Unfortunately, the teen population is not the only population at risk in the Virgin Islands. The highest means of HIV transmission for women is through high-risk heterosexual partners. For men, the highest transmission is through men who have sex with men (MSM). HIV does not discriminate; if you are sexually active or sharing needles, you may be at risk. If you are having unprotected sex of any kind or sharing unclean needles, you are at high risk for HIV.
VICARE is providing the St. Croix Community with an opportunity to Know Your Status. The painless, no blood, no needles OraQuick® HIV oral test provides results within 20 minutes. Do your part in reducing HIV in the V.I.–Get tested regularly; know your status; use condoms and clean needles; seek medical care and support if you are positive.

VICARE HIV Testing Schedule

Monday, June 23: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Work-Able, Sunny Isle
Tuesday, June 24: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at VICARE, 43 Queen Street, Christiansted
Wednesday, June 25: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Cost U Less, Sion Farm
Thursday, June 26: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Gov. Juan Luis Hospital
Friday, June 27: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at VICARE, 43 Queen Street, Christiansted

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