Guyana to benefit from US $800,000 PANCAP project
Member states of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) like Guyana, stand to benefit from a US $800,000 health project aimed at pushing early antiretroviral therapy for persons living with HIV.
The 18-month PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief)-USAID funded initiative is being implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs under the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project.
One of the project’s aims is to enhance the capacity of PANCAP’s Coordinating Unit and to aid all PANCAP members in knowledge generation and sharing with regard to the new World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘Test and Start’ guidelines.
PANCAP’s Director, Dereck Springer said the body fully embrace the World Health organization’s test and start guidelines in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Because study evidence shows that the earlier persons living with HIV start antiretroviral treatment, they have better health outcomes. However, to achieve this paradigm shift, the resources required for diagnostic and treatment, staff education and clear and consistent public messaging about the benefits of test and start, must be understood by health and other key decision makers” Springer said.
The Project Knowledge Management Coordinator, Dr. Shanti Singh-Anthony said there will be a strong exchange of knowledge using the virtual platform.
Through the project, Dr. Singh-Anthony said “we will…be establishing a cost-effective platforms for virtual knowledge exchange such as virtual meetings, communities of practice, E-newsletters, E-learning. The PANCAP website and virtual library will be enhanced to encourage knowledge exchange and a repository of global exchange” among other things.
According to Public Health Minister, Dr. George Norton PANCAP has over the years helped Guyana to adequately fund its response efforts while sustaining the gains made along the way.
He disclosed that in 2015, more than 55, 000 HIV tests were provided, increasing from 17.9% of key populations in 2014 to 22.5%in 2015. At the end of 2015, “we have maintained 4,551 persons on free, high-quality antiretroviral therapy which has helped improve the quality of life and treatment outcomes” he added.
Last year October the World Health Organization issued a guideline on what it calls the treat-all approach which is known as Test and Start.
With this in mind, the body is recommending antiretroviral therapy for all those living with HIV at any CD4 cell count.
Several studies have revealed that the earlier patients initiate antiretroviral therapy the better they do when it comes to living with the virus.