Over 9,000 Guyanese living with HIV; majority of new cases are young people

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An estimated 9,022 people are living with HIV in Guyana, with 71 new cases recorded this year alone.

This is according to the Programme Coordinator of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat Secretariat (NAPS) Dr. Tariq Jagnarine.

While speaking at a World AIDS day event on Wednesday, Dr. Jagnarine said that the prevalence of HIV in Guyana has been reduced to 1.3 per cent of the population; this is a marginal drop from the 1.4 per cent prevalence.

Of the people living with HIV, Dr. Jagnarine says that 94 per cent of them are aware of their HIV status. Further, an estimated 74 per cent of people have been receiving their antiretroviral treatment, and about 82 per cent of people receiving the treatment are virally suppressed.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition that is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus causes harm to the immune system and resultantly, interferes with the body’s ability to fight infection and disease.

Viral suppression is when the amount of viral load of HIV in the body is reduced because people are taking their HIV treatment (that is, their medication) as prescribed.

Importantly, Desiree Edghill, who has spent decades working in HIV prevention through civil society, noted that a significant amount of the new HIV cases being recorded are among young people. While she did not provide exact figures, she called for sexual health education and awareness – particularly among the young demographic – to intensify.

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