Consequent to the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reporting that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) infection is on the rise in the Caribbean, Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton has revealed that new infections in Guyana are on the increase, with the younger population significantly accounting for this increase.
According to the UNAIDS, “after years of steady decline, the Caribbean saw a nine per cent rise in annual new HIV infections among adults between 2010 and 2015.”
The report further alluded that this is as a result of the medical drug for the disease not working as effectively as in the past. Most recently, however, analysis from the UNAIDS shows that the HIV infection among adults remains stagnant, failing to decline for at least five years. The organisation is therefore urging countries to take a more comprehensive approach to battle the disease.
Commenting on the statistics reported, Dr Norton stated that Guyana is among the countries that are battling the increase. However, he stated that that infection among the younger population is “very worrying.”
“There’s no doubt about it… even our own statistics have shown that there has been some increase. The bad thing about our increase is that it is higher in the younger population. That is worrying because right across the Caribbean it is the new infections are in the lower age,” he stated.
Dr Norton further explained that measures have already been put into place to combat this scourge, and the Public Health Ministry is increasing its efforts, saying “We have already started implementing measures to tackle this because we have recognised that people are not really dying from AIDS as before because of the precautions that have been taken.”
He related that over the years, despite the increase in infection, there has been a decrease in HIV/AIDS related deaths as there is easier access to care and treatment. “ Not only is the medication less toxic to the body but also in terms of quantity… it’s just like one pill a day even though these antiretroviral treatment are very expensive, they are free of charge here in Guyana and that might be the reason for the population to increase their defence in regards to that disease,” the Minister stated.