Jan 03, 2016 News
– Health Minister
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton has said that plans are afoot to implement systems to seriously tackle, the HIV/ AIDS virus this year.
In 2005, Guyana had one of the highest prevalence rates of sexually transmitted HIV infection in Latin America and the Caribbean, second only to Haiti; an estimated 2.5 % of the population was living with the disease.
According to the National AIDS Programme Secretariat, the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in Guyana reduced to one per cent of the total population in 2009–2010.
The reduction rate of HIV prevalence among women in Guyana has remained at one p0er cent while those high risk persons such as homosexuals and sex workers have decreased.
However according to Dr. Norton, while there has been some progress as it relates to HIV/AIDS the issue of stigma/discrimination is still an issue on the front burner for persons infected with the virus.
He noted that a recent study conducted in Guyana revealed that such persons live in fear of violence, discrimination and abandonment.
Additionally, HIV infected people usually have difficulty finding and keeping a jobs due to fear of marginalization —hence poverty is also an issue. Because people feel discriminated or stigmatised, they do not come for treatment and they can get preventative measures, and so there must be efforts to see how best stigma and discrimination can be eliminated.
The Health Minister posited that unless health care providers, policy makers and other stakeholders are willing to tackle the issue of discrimination, the nation will not achieve its objective in the matters of HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, Dr. Edward Greene, in a recent interview with the local media, described Guyana’s achievement in the battle against HIV/AIDS compared with some countries in the Caribbean has been described as remarkable.
According to statistics provided in 2001, only seven to eight percent of the HIV/AIDS population was having access to treatment; the 2012 statistics now show that access to treatment has been improved to more than 50 percent.
The UN envoy further stated that “although we need to increase that number, the remarkable progress is what I want to point out.”
Guyana was also lauded for the reduction in deaths from HIV/AIDS over the past 15 years; this calculates to a 70 percent reduction.
“I think that you have something to celebrate, because Guyana is one of those countries that were successful in eliminating the mother to child transmission,” Dr. Greene had informed.
In recent years, statistics have shown signs of a beginning to the halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is also projected to meet the target of achieving universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it, under the criteria outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In addition, Guyana also has a National HIV/AIDS workplace policy which aims at ensuring equal access to persons who have HIV, in ensuring that they are not discriminated against, have access to employment, training and all other services and opportunities provided and offered by the State. Emphasis will be placed on the implementation of such policies in the coming year.
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