The National AIDS Hotline of Trinidad and Tobago
Where can I get general information on HIV/AIDS?
Is there a cure for AIDS?
- National AIDS Hotline for information, counselling and referral. Mon-Sat, 8am-8pm, tel 800 4448 or 625 2437
- National AIDS Programme, 43-45 Frederick St, POS, tel 623 8322
- Queen's Park Counselling Centre & Clinic, 5 Queen's Park East, POS, 8am-noon, tel 625 3944
- CARe, 25 Norfolk St, Belmont, tel 625 0632, 623 7443
- RAPPORT (mainly for young persons):
43-45 Frederick St, POS, tel 623 8322
16 Pro Queen, Arima, tel 667 5774
1st Floor Biljah Bldg, 77-81 Independence Ave, S/F`do, tel 657 7236
- South AIDS Support, 25 Victoria West, Paradise Pasture, S/F`do tel 652 2437
To date, there is no cure and no vaccination for HIV. However, due to improved medication and knowledge, HIV is now considered a manageable disease. With medication and proper health care, barring other diseases like cancer, one can live many years without anyone knowing that you have HIV.
How safe are condoms? Do condoms have "pores" that the HIV virus can penetrate?
There are three types of condoms: natural or lambskin; latex and polyurethane.
Latex condoms are the most popular and with correct storage and usage will prevent transmission of HIV. The most recent is the PVC or vinyl condom, even more impermeable than latex. Used properly, a latex or vinyl condom will protect you from contracting HIV.
Condoms should properly be stored in a cool place like a backpack or purse (a wallet is the worst place) and checked for the expiry date. Never use expired condoms.
Never use your teeth or nails to open a condom. Follow the directions and carefully remove the condom from the package with your fingers.
Can I get infected through kissing?
The virus is found in saliva but not in sufficient quantity to infect anyone. No one has ever been infected through kissing according to research to date.
My co-worker is HIV +. Should we avoid him/ her?
It is safe to hug and shake hands. You can safely share cups, chairs, toilet seats, telephones and washing machines. Do not share toothbrushes, razor blades, combs or drug needles.
Do I need to get tested for HIV?
If you have had unprotected sex (without a condom) or were raped and got someone's blood, sperm or vaginal secretions into your body, you should consider getting tested for HIV.
What are the signs and symptoms of AIDS?
Symptoms of AIDS normally appear 8-10 years after infection and may not always be related to AIDS. Some symptoms of AIDS may be:
How do they test for HIV?
When a virus invades your body, your immune system manufactures antibodies in your white blood cells to combat the HIV virus. This can take between 6 weeks to 3 months. If you take the test before you can develop HIV antibodies you will get a false reading and will need to test again.
The ELISA test is 99.9% accurate and takes 1-3 weeks for a result.
- Oral thrush, a white coating in the mouth and on the tongue
- Swollen lymph glands on the sides of the neck, in the armpits and groin
- Severe weight loss, greater than 10% of your normal weight
- Heavy sweat at night
- Dark skin blotches or Kaposi Sarcoma, a form of skin cancer
The Rapid Result Test, which delivers results within an hour, is now being introduced in Trinidad at certain health centres.
What if I get a negative result?
A negative result means that the test could not detect any HIV antibodies in your blood. It could mean that you were not infected with HIV. It could also mean that you have not yet developed antibodies because you went too soon after infection and should take another test 3 months after infection.
What if I get a positive result?
It means that HIV antibodies were found in your blood and that you may be infected with HIV. Bear in mind that HIV is now a manageable disease and no longer a death sentence. HIV takes a long time after infection to reach the AIDS stage.
Where can I get tested for HIV?
There are three types of testing sites: doctors' offices, medical laboratories and government health centres.
Tests in laboratories are generally $90 or more.
All government health centres in T&T are free.
I have been infected with HIV. Where can I get treatment?
- Queen's Park Counselling Centre & Clinic, 5 Queen's Park East, 8am-noon; tel 625 3944
- The STD Division, Ward 17, San Fernando General Hospital, 8am-noon; tel: 652 8371
- George St Health Centre, POS, Mon-Fri, 8:30am - 3pm; tel 623 5155; Rapid Result testing, free
- Arima Health Centre, Wed 12:30pm; tel 667 4715
- Sangre Grande Health Centre, Mondays, 12:30pm; tel 668 2509
- Princes Town Health Centre, Wed noon; tel 655 8433, 655 6017
- Siparia Health Centre, every 1st and 3rd Thu 9am; tel 649 2484
- Chaguanas Health Centre, Endeavour Rd, Tue, noon; tel 665 8958
- Couva District Health Centre, Fri noon; tel 636 4024,636 4033
- Point Fortin Health Centre Tue 10am; tel 648 2329
- Health Promotional, Calder Hall, Tobago, Mon & Wed, 9-12pm; tel 660 7872
- Scarborough Health Centre, Scarborough, Tobago, Mon 1-4pm; tel 639 2298
- FPA at cor Oxford & Charlotte Sts will soon begin R/R testing at $70; tel 623 0004
I have been infected with HIV. Where can I get counselling?
- Medical Research Centre, cor Jerningham Ave and Queen's Park East, POS, by appointment only, Mon-Thu, tel 623 5834
- Ward 2, San Fernando General Hospital, tel 652 3581 Ext 3249
- Health Promotional, Calder Hall, Tobago, Mon & Wed, 9-12pm; tel 660 7872
What is Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART)?
Anti-Retroviral Medication (ARV) are tablets which, when taken in the right combination, prevents the virus from replicating and further weakening the body. Although ART is not suitable for everyone, it is often possible to reduce the virus to very low levels which allows the person to return to normal life including going back to work.
- National AIDS Hotline - for anonymous tel counselling, info and support tel 800 4448, 625 2437
- Queen's Park Counselling Centre & Clinic, 5 Queen's Park East, 8am-noon; tel 625 3944; 625 2556
- Tobago AIDS Society, Tobago tel 635 1024
- Tobago Oasis Foundation, Tobago; tel 660 7547
- CARe - counselling and support; group meetings; Mon-Sat 8am-4pm tel 625 0632, 623 7443
- Friends for Life - for HIV+ men and women; tel 681 4150, 717 6413
- South AIDS Support; tel 652 2437
- CARITAS AIDS Ministries, home care services; tel 637 8689
- Living Water's Mercy Home Hospice; apply through Medical Research Centre; tel 623 5834
CARe has a Treatment Hotline for information on ART: tel 623 7443
Isn't Anti-Retroviral Therapy expensive?
When can I begin Anti-Retroviral Therapy?
Usually, ART is of no use before you approach the AIDS stages. Your doctor will take 2 tests: the Viral Load (which measures the virus in your blood) and your CD4 count (the amount of white blood cells). Your doctor will usually begin you on ART when your Viral Load is high and your CD4 count low. It is important that your health be monitored around this time.
- Anti-Retroviral medication is free for registered clients from:
- Medical Research Centre
- Ward 2, San Fernando General Hospital
- Health Promotional, Calder Hall, Tobago
- Domestic Violence Hotline tel : 800 7283
- Childline, Mon-Sat, noon-8pm, tel 800 4321
- Rape Crisis Society, tel: 622 7273; 657 5355
- NACC Level 4, Victoria Park Suites, 14-17 Victoria Sq, tel: 623 9661, 624 4014
- NADAP - Abercromby St Tel: 627 3506
- Social Services, EWMSC, Mt Hope Tel: 663 2700
- Cyril Ross Nursery, El Dorado Rd, Tel 662 8975
- FPA, cor Charlotte & Oxford Sts; tel 623 0004
Registered Charity File Number T-2564. AIDSLINE, PO Bag 472, Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad W.I.