Dec 02, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – With 71 new infections from HIV/AIDS this year, the Government of Guyana said that it is putting measures in place that could see an end to HIV/AIDS here by 2030.
This is according to Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony who was speaking at a World AIDS Day forum on Wednesday at the National AIDS Programme Secretariat on Hadfield Street, Georgetown.
Among the measures being advanced is the introduction of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which will reduce the risk of infection in persons who have been exposed to the deadly virus. The health ministry will also re-enforce sexual education in the school system, while encouraging more persons to get tested for the disease, the Department of Public Information reported. “We can get past that. Despite COVID we can work to end AIDS by 2030. This has been a dream for a lot of people for a long time. If we stay on track and if we work hard, we can be able to do that, and that’s what we have to set our sights on. We can prevent it (HIV) by introducing PrEP that is, Pre-exposure prophylaxis, meaning that if you believe you are at risk for this infection then come in to one of our centers and we’ll work with you, assess that risk, do some tests…once you are eligible, we will then be able to give you the treatment so as to prevent infections from occurring.”
Dr. Anthony said the COVID-19 Pandemic has created many challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said many persons stopped attending clinics, however, the ministry has been tracking those individuals to get them back on their treatment schedule. Further, Dr. Anthony said the ministry will seek to ensure more self-testing kits are made available to allow persons to test themselves in the comfort of their homes.
Meanwhile, National AIDS Programme Secretariat Manager, Dr. Tariq Jagnarine reported that Guyana currently has some 9,022 persons living with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Jagnarine said the disease is having a profound impact on societies around the world. He said in order to end the global epidemic, the society must come together to support and care for persons instead of discriminating against them.
“Globally the HIV/AIDs epidemic compounded with the most recent COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on our society, bringing out the best and worst in people, it triggers the best when individuals group together in harmony to combat societal, community and individual denial and support and care for people living with HIV/AIDs.
Sadly, it brings out the worst when individuals are stigmatised and ostracised by their loved ones, their families and their community and discriminated against,” he said. He added that over 50 percent of people living with HIV/AIDs in Guyana have been COVID-19 vaccinated.
“The COVID-19 vaccination coverage in persons living with HIV is at 55 percent and that number is climbing, this was achieved through medial outreaches combined with vaccination drive, one on one counselling session with persons living with HIV,” Dr. Jagnarine noted.
United States Ambassador to Guyana, Ms. Sarah Ann-Lynch said the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) continues support to countries’ fight against HIV.
“It further highlights PEPFAR’s ongoing efforts to assist countries in achieving sustained epidemic control of HIV, by supporting equitable health services and solutions, enduring national health systems and capabilities in lasting collaboration.
It also conveys PEPFAR’s deep commitment to ensure that the diverse voices of all affected ages, ethnicities, genders and population groups are heard and valued in the global AIDS response,” she said. The ambassador also noted that the PEPFAR’s supported programmes have safely ensured access to HIV services and have significantly expanded while keeping clients and staff safe from COVID-19. With seven new facilities equipped to test and treat HIV/AIDs in Guyana, there are now 50 operating facilities providing services to this group of people. Records from the health ministry show a decrease in HIV/AIDs cases this year, with 71 persons testing positive for the infection.
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