Guyana to receive US$160,000 grant to fight AIDS


Guyana will benefit from a one-off grant of US$160,000 to begin a Test and START (Start Anti-Retroviral Therapy) programme which will significantly reduce new HIV infections and fast-track treatment.


The Ministry of Public Health has announced that it will embark on the START programme from October, 01 to fight off the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) soon after persons are tested positive, thereby reducing chances of persons dying from AIDS.


The grant which is provided by the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), will cater for the procurement of anti-retroviral treatment (ART).


Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings recently participated in the PEPFAR Caribbean Regional Operation Programme meeting in Florida, where she said that though Guyana is willing to absorb some of the costs attached the Test and Start programme, it welcomes the support.


She assured that the funding will be managed with robust level of transparency and accountability.


The Public Health Ministry says the aim of the PEPFAR Caribbean Regional Operation Programme is to ensure that 2018, 80 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDS in Guyana are on the Test and Start Programme.


Test and Start is a scientifically proven HIV prevention programme that can fast-tack the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS.  The 90–90–90 PEPFAR goals speaks to 90 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDS in Guyana knowing their status.


Of those persons, 90 percent must be immediately placed on ARVs. Of the 90 percent placed on ARVs, there must be a 90 percent increase in viral load suppression.


Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud recently disclosed in the local press that there has been a growing trend in new HIV cases.


He highlighted the need to formulate a new strategy to deal with the spreading of the virus since majority of the population took comfort in the country’s success in significantly reducing its cases and therefore, is not seeing the need to take precaution.


Dr. Persaud stated that statistics explain that it is mostly the younger population that has been engaging in unprotected sexual activities, adding that nearly 60% of youths begin having sex at an early age and most of them have little to no knowledge on how HIV/AIDS is contracted.


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