- Executive Summary:
Maldives remains among low prevalent countries of HIV/AIDS. However, there is evidence indicative of risk factors that can potentially trigger HIV transmission. The government of Maldives recognizes HIV/AIDS as an issue of national concern and has adopted a strategy for control and prevention of HIV/AIDS with its main focus on high-risk groups such as drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men.
Society for Health Organization (SHE), as a sub-recipient agency in the Global Fund project, is carrying out the objective 2-Prevention of HIV transmission among population at risk such as migrant, seafarers, and resorts workers, to continue to maintain Maldives as a HIV low prevalence country through appropriate preventative and curative interventions
Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Centers are one-stop centers with services ranging from prevention efforts to a wide array of services for those already affected by HIV. Establishment of a VCTC within the organization would prove an effective mechanism to enhance access to services, subsequently implementing a more holistic prevention and control strategy, thus enable to provide a comprehensive service to its customers.
With the approval of grant, for establishment of a VCTC at SHE with the support from CCHDC the organization is now able to facilitate HIV testing services within its premises.
- Inauguration Ceremony:
December 1st 2010: A ceremony was held by Society for Health Education, to inaugurate the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center, opened in collaboration with Center for Community Health and Disease control and UNDP Maldives, under the Global Fund supported HIV/AIDS programme in the Maldives.
Speaking at a function organized by SHE, Chief Guest Mr. Andrew Cox, Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, UNDP Maldives highlighted that the opening of this Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre, goes hand in hand with the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’, which reminds us of the critical importance of both in effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The chief guest further noted that the Maldives has a low prevalence of HIV. That does not mean the country is without risk. There are several vulnerability factors related to HIV such as migration, including internal migration, coupled with an active young population. HIV prevention interventions are needed for these populations along with current target groups. The Voluntary Counseling Testing Centre therefore comes at an opportune time. This is about the rights of a group of people. The protection of human rights is fundamental to combating the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. By promoting individual human rights, new infections can be prevented and people living with HIV can live free from discrimination.
Followed by the chief guest speech and ribbon cutting, Ms. Zaha Waheed, General Secretary of Executive Committee of SHE expressed gratitude for the support provided by the government authorities particularly Center for Community Health and Disease Control, National AIDS Programme and UNDP Maldives in the accomplishment if the services.