Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), Dereck Springer says Guyana has seen an unprecedented movement in the fight against HIV with a compassionate response from communities.
Speaking at PANCAP’s annual day of observance for World AIDS Day at the CARICOM Headquarters on Friday, the Director also noted that the disease is not a health problem but rather a sustainable development issue.
On December 1 Guyana will join the rest of the world to observe World AIDS Day under the theme – Communities make the difference.
“As we saw more people become infected with HIV and they were young people, a group that sometimes we forget emerged, community,” Springer said.
Speaking about the changes over the years when persons would be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS days or weeks before their death or shunned from society, the Director said it was community activism that led to the development of compassionate care through organisations such as PANCAP.
“As I reflect on communities and the difference that communities make, I also reflect on the doctors that made a difference in those days, they were a few because most rejected people that were living with HIV,” Springer said.
Springer said it is community activism that led to the development of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
“….and we have just seen a very successful sixth replenishment, US$14B,” Springer said.
Meanwhile, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Douglas Slater said with reduced donor funding for HIV/AIDS support and treatment, governments and community organisations now have the task to make the difference to reduce the prevalence of the disease.
“As the region faces reduce donor funding, community-led organisations have risen to the challenge of resource mobilization, generating income to sustain the operation is no longer an alien concept to our local grassroots communities led HIV responses,” Dr Slater said.
PANCAP highlighted the work being done by the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, LiveUp, the Caribbean Media Alliance in Barbados and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) Guyana.
It was noted that SASOD recently secured funding for the Guyana key population viral load assessment through the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief.
Deputy Programme Manager at the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Dr Nicolette Boatswain expressed renewed commitment to community engagement to provide a comprehensive response in the fight against this scourge.
Recognizing the role nutrition play in HIV/AIDS care PANCAP donated food supplies to the National AIDS Programme Secretariat on Friday.
In Guyana, there are an estimated 8200 persons infected with HIV.