This week the regional director general for public health José Díaz – Flores Estévez and the mayor of Adeje, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, presented a pilot project including a sexual information service and early rapid HIV detection testing. The service will be available in the Adeje health promotion department in the Centre for Tourism Development Costa Adeje (CDTCA) and testing will be carried out on Mondays and Thursdays, with an appointment, that can be made by phoning 922-756-257 or 922-756-244.
The object of the service is to offer information that should improve the general population’s awareness of sexually transmitted infections, reduce the incidence of HIV as well as unwanted pregnancies. The free testing service will be carried out in the presence of trained personnel and offers a guarantee of total confidentiality and should help those who, says the mayor, may not wish to go to their local health centre or talk to the own GP about testing. There will be personnel who will be able to assist people who have limited or no Spanish.
The mayor said they were already working with a sex education programme through local schools and secondary which was designed to give young people the knowledge they needed to develop their own sexuality independently and without risks. “We worry about the health of our citizens”, he said, “and we have felt it necessary to promote an educational campaign which will promote a healthier safer life for all. That’s why we are creating this Sex Information Point which will help people with their sexual orientation as well as the creation of a HIV testing centre that is discreet, with personalised attention and quick results”.
The regional director general for public health said that this was a pilot project, and if the results were good it would be repeated in other parts of the islands. “Illnesses caused by sexually transmission are a cause of worry for the administrations, particularly heath bodies. The most worrying is HIV. In the Canary Islands we are seeing 250 new cases annually, and the problem nationally and internationally is that 30 % of those who are infected don’t know, and therefore we have to reinforce the need for early detection which will prevent the development of other parallel infections and greatly improve the quality of life of the person who is HIV positive”.
Flores Estévez said that the profile of those diagnosed with HIV has changed, and today the largest group are those who are infected through unprotected sex – 93.7 of which 71% are men who have sexual relations with other men. Only 3.4% of new cases are as a result of intravenous drug use
The project includes a number of other initiatives such as an awareness raising drive among the public with social and professional agencies working together in education, with associations and families offering a series of talks and workshops on sexual behaviour and better health. There will also be prevention projects aimed at the borough’s young people and talks for parents and educators in co-ordination with local health centres, social services and youth groups.
Fast testing service
The staff who will be carrying out the HIV testing service are health professionals who will adhere to a rigid and approved protocol based on confidentiality and the rights of those using the service. The regional department of public health is assisting in the carrying out of the tests which can be done either via oral fluid or digital blood testing (OraQuick Advance and INSTI HIV-1/2 respectively). The test results are known within 20 minutes. Prior to administering the test the person seeking the test will be told about what it entails and a quick interview will be held solely to determine if it is really necessary. Throughout the entire procedure the intimacy of the person seeking the test is respected.