The efforts of the Guyana Defence Force HIV/AIDS programme to effectively combat the scourge of the dreaded HIV/AIDS virus are expected to be significantly boosted with a donation of a minibus.
The 15-seater Hiace minibus came compliments of the United States Military Liaison Office, which has been working in partnership with the programme and was handed over by US Military Commander Steven Stanley at the Camp Ayanganna base on Thursday last.
Among a simple military gathering Commander Stanley pointed out that the donation comes as an important demonstration of how the partnership between the two military forces has been gaining ground.
He noted, too, that the minibus is in fact one of the many steps which will be offered to the HIV/AIDS programme in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The commander further articulated that the endowment became a reality based on the recognition “that we must not go it alone” in terms of the fight against the virus.
He is optimistic that renewed attempts will be made to sensitise persons who are unaware of the presence of the virus as well as those who are directly or indirectly affected.
Commander Stanley also commended the fact that several counsellors and administrators of the military have been trained and are prepared to address the HIV/AIDS situation.
And according to GDF Lieutenant Colonel Clement Baird, the relation between the US and Guyana forces started in 2006, noting that a number of crucial interventions have since been undertaken to address the problematic virus.
He too made reference to the training of testers and counsellors who he regarded as foot soldiers in the fight.
The senior officer divulged that addressing the virus is especially important for the GDF, since it is a necessary requirement that health and fitness take centre stage. As such he lauded the continued support which is drawn from the PEPFAR initiative of the US government which is geared at enhancing the fight even in the wider military community.
And according to Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS programme, Ms Beverly Gomes-Lovell, the minibus will help in the mobility to facilitate counselling and testing across military bases.
She explained that because of the type of work that some of the ranks are engaged in, it is sometimes difficult for them to come to the Ayanganna base, thus in order to keep them healthy efforts must be made to reach them.
So far, about half of GDF personnel have already been tested and sustained efforts will ensure that the remainder are tested, Gomes-Lovell assured.
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