The BVI Red Cross’s annual Men’s Health Fair and Prostate Screening (shown above in January 2017) has served thousands of men over the years. The next sessions take place on April 1 and 2 at Cedar International School. (File photo: CHRISTINA KISSOON)

Men in the territory, especially ages 40 and up, will be offered a host of free health services in the coming days as part of the annual BVI Red Cross Men’s Health Fair and Prostate Cancer Screening.

This weekend, the multi-day fair takes place on Tortola, where screenings will be offered from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 1 and 2 at Cedar International School. A screening was also held March 25 at the Catholic Community Centre on Virgin Gorda.

BVIRC Director Stacy Lloyd said the annual event has been providing life-saving screening since its inception in 1998.

“Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men,” she said. “But if it’s detected early, it’s the most curable cancer. That’s why it’s recommended that you do your checks annually, or more often if you have a family history. Having this fair helps to detect the cancer very early. We can make the recommendations to the men that they get the treatment they need and save a life.”


The event originated with funding by a single donor to support preventative health care, and it has since expanded with a variety of offerings.

“Our main service is the prostate cancer screening,” Ms. Lloyd said. “However, over the years, we’ve added glucose testing, cholesterol, blood pressure checks, dental checks, vision checks, HIV testing. At our last fair, we did Covid testing and offered the Covid vaccine. So it’s a full-blown clinic.”

Practitioners in various fields are invited to help raise awareness for common health concerns like diabetes and maintaining a beneficial diet and exercise routine.

Ms. Lloyd thanked Harneys for coming on board as a main sponsor after last year, when the BVIRC did not have adequate funding to host a fair. Other local businesses have also offered their support, and practitioners have volunteered their expertise, including two urologists conducting the prostate exams.

Five students from this territory who are currently attending nursing school at the University of the Virgin Islands will be offering their assistance as well.

‘They come in droves’

The annual fair has had a widespread impact in the community, according to the BVIRC.

“Before NHI, we used to screen over 1,200 men,” Ms. Lloyd said. “Men relied on this fair to do their medical checks.”

In 2021, she added, the BVIRC tested nearly 700 men despite pandemic-related restrictions.

She noted that men tend to be more hesitant to seek preventative care on their own. However, at an event like this, “they come in droves,” she said.

While the typically recommended age to begin regular prostate checks is 40, Ms. Lloyd noted that anyone with a family history of cancer should begin exams at 35.

Men of all ages are invited to attend for the other health screenings as well, she said.

Pre-screening fasting

Participants seeking bloodwork should begin fasting — refraining from both food and beverages — the night before to get accurate results, she said. Meals will be provided after screening.

Ms. Lloyd said other activities like CPR training will be featured as well.