Nov 30, 2008 News
It has been one month now since the story broke about an individual accepting bribes from people in order to give them a test result stating that they are HIV negative, although they would have tested positive for the virus.
However, to date the investigation into the allegation, which was said to be taking place at a Voluntary Counseling and Testing Site (VCT) at Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara, is still to be completed.
Kaieteur News understands that the individual who is said to be conducting the act is still working at the VCT site. When contacted for a comment on the issue yesterday, Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said that the Ministry is still unaware of who the person is, and the incident is still being treated as an allegation.
He explained that after the World AIDS Day concert is completed, then more attention will be placed on the matter, as the officers who will be conducting the investigations are taken up with other issues currently. When the issue first came to light, Minister Ramsammy had immediately launched an investigation and had noted that if the incident is found to be true, then that individual will be handed over to the police.
Dr. Ramsammy had said that the Ministry has reasons to believe that the allegation made against the individual in the Kaieteur News article has some truth to it. “This is a criminal act, and if it is proven to be so, then that person will be handed over to the police. I want people to know that,” Dr. Ramsammy had told reporters. He also revealed that when the allegation is verified, then the Ministry would not only fire the individual but that person will be not be employed at any other health facility in Guyana.
A source from the VCT site had informed this newspaper that the individual in question would actually sell a ‘negative’ result to a person tested positive for HIV at a cost of $10,000.
Kaieteur News was told that one of the supervisors at the clinic is trying to keep the incident on the down low, despite receiving advice as it relates to the danger the action of this act poses to the rest of the society.
This newspaper was further informed that the clinic received reports of this act from as early as April of this year. The Health Minister had questioned why a HIV positive individual would want to have a HIV negative certificate, as he pointed out that it cannot be used to obtain a United States or a Canadian Visa, since tests like these have to be conducted by a certified lab that the embassies know of.
In this regard, Dr Ramsammy had said that the only conclusion he can arrive at is that these persons would want the certificate for personal reasons, so as to show their wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends that they are HIV negative.
He had also made it clear that employers are not required to request a potential employee to do an HIV test, as he cited that this is not in keeping with Guyana’s policy.
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