Health workers now ready to administer HIV rapid tests

The original article can be found in: BVI News

In continued efforts to strengthen the health sector’s response and treatment of HIV/AIDS, over 70 health workers throughout the Virgin Islands received training on how to administer an HIV Rapid Test to clients accessing health care services following Provider Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling training sessions.

In welcoming the first cohort of participants at the opening ceremony on November 21, National AIDS Programme Coordinator, Mrs. Noelene Levons Clarke stated, “Provider Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling means that wherever persons access health services, whether it is in a dental unit, emergency room, public health clinic or in a doctor’s office, they are offered an HIV test so that it becomes a part of the initial assessment in the same manner as taking their temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.”

Mrs. Clarke noted that Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling is voluntary and clients may decline the recommendation of an HIV test if they choose to.

The training of clinicians is part of a project facilitated by the Eastern European Overseas Territories Programme under the European Commission. Managed by the Pan American Health Organisation, each British Overseas Territory has been receiving $120,000 annually for the period 2009 to 2015 to improve and strengthen the health care system to manage its response to HIV/AIDS.

In his presentation, featured facilitator and Ryan White Programme Coordinator for St. Croix, Mr. Jason Henry encouraged participants to be familiar with the sexual jargon spoken by clients so that they could be properly assisted, and any concerns that arose during the assessments could be addressed.

During the sessions, participants comprised of doctors, nurses, dentists and other clinicians received training in HIV Pre-Test Counselling and HIV Post Test Counselling, HIV Rapid Test Kits, Safety Standards for HIV Testing, Provider Initiated HIV Testing and HIV Surveillance Requirements. The training ended on November 23.

Previously, HIV Rapid Tests were only conducted by the National AIDS Programme on an appointment basis, during health fairs, or for special events such as Regional Testing Day.

An HIV Rapid Test is used to see if a sample of oral fluid or blood contains HIV antibodies. Once consent is given, a health care provider will collect an oral fluid sample or take a small droplet of blood, run the tests and provide results in the same visit.

The HIV Rapid Test is 99.6% accurate however validation testing is necessary to confirm a preliminary positive result.
The National AIDS Programme in the Ministry of Health and Social Development functions as the HIV/AIDS focal point for the Virgin Islands and collaborates with local, regional and international agencies to mitigate the health and socio-economic impacts of HIV/AIDS on individuals, families and communities in the Virgin Islands.

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