As someone who has lost a family member to the deadly AIDS virus, a student of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) spoke about how important it is for college students to know their status.
"It's important for college students to know where they stand, especially if they're sleeping with people. If you get tested, and your test comes back negative, you need to ensure whomever you date after that test is also tested and negative," said the student at BTVI's eighth annual HIV/AIDS Testing Day organised by the Student Affairs department.
The test required a prick of the finger and results were available within 15 to 20 minutes. On hand to facilitate the free testing were healthcare workers from the HIV and AIDS Centre of the Ministry of Health, who gave pre- and post-test counselling.
Another student, who also spoke under the condition of anonymity, emphasised how vital it is for college students to get tested, particularly as many young people can be irresponsible.
"It is important to get tested because you could have it and infect someone else. If you know you have it you can start treatment and educate yourself to live a quality life. At the college age, students are more sexually active and more likely to contract the disease due to reckless sexual behaviour," said the Office Assistant student.
Meanwhile, trained clinical nurse Uvie Johnson explained how testing positive for HIV/AIDS does not have to mean a person's live is over; today's it's a condition that can be managed with treatment. She, too, noted that many college students are sexually active, therefore the necessity of testing.
"If they are positive, there are treatments available for free. For persons who are not positive, but have a partner who is and they wish to stay with them, we also have something called PrEP that can prevent transmission of the disease to the negative partner. With the negative partner being on PrEP, and the positive partner being on the necessary medications, they can remain in a healthy relationship and even start a family," said Nurse Johnson.
Nursing Officer Beverly Boyd said the Ministry of Health's goal is to eradicate the spreading of HIV/AIDS through education, protection and treatment.
"Our mandate is to have at least 90 percent of the HIV/AIDS population in the Bahamas diagnosed and treated so they can become virally suppressed and undetectable," she said.