The St Anthony’s clinic for the poor at Syke Street in Freetown over the weekend opened its HIV/AIDS testing lab.
Speaking at the St Anthony’s Parish hall, sister in charge of the clinic, Anita Ganda said that the lab was opened to raise awareness on the Prevention from Child to Mother Transmission (PMTCT).
She added that, AIDS is like any other disease and therefore it is mandatory for pregnant women to do the HIV test to know their status, adding that people die or are sick of AIDS without knowing their status.
Sister Ganda pointed out that, people who live with HIV/AIDS need your, care, protection and love as much as you would if you were not sick.
She stressed that as long as you do not have unprotected sex or exchange blood with somebody who is infected, people with HIV/AIDS are no risk to you or anyone else around them.
The sister in charge assured the community that, the test is free, the medicine is free and is confidential assuring that nobody will know your status.
Mrs Ganda gave a brief talk on Voluntary Counseling and Confidential Testing (VCCT).
In her brief statement the Mother and Child Aide, Gifty Shorunkeh Sawyer said that, children whose mothers are infected with the virus are given special care.
Over the past years, she explained that infected mothers were giving birth to children without the virus.
This is as a result of the mother taking her drugs frequently and visiting the clinic regularly.
The mother and child aide maintained that, children are given special food to eat and that when the child is one year six months a test is conducted on that child to know if he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS.
If the child is infected that child will be taken care of and given special treatment to prolong his or her life.
She called on the community people to stop the discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Mrs Sawyer stated that discrimination is an unfair and unjust treatment done to a person or group of people living with the virus.
Stigmatization, she said is a real or perceived negative response to a person by an individual, family or community.
At the end of the ceremony, the community people outlined some of the activities they could do to tackle the problem of discrimination and stigmatization with people living with the virus.
Head teachers also said that they will form HIV/AIDS theatre groups in their various schools and HIV/AIDS will be added to their PTA meeting agenda.