[www.inewsguyana.com] – Executive Director of the Guyana Sex Worker Coalition and Co – Chair of the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition, Miriam Edwards says there has been a decline in the prevalence of HIV+ Sex Workers locally.
Edwards was at the time attending a workshop: “Controlling the Epidemic and Achieving a Sustainable Response” for Health Care Workers at the Grand Coastal Hotel this morning.
She told iNews that the issue of stigma and discrimination, involving health care providers, remains a challenge but is hopeful that training sessions like these will help to retard that practice.
The workshop will focus on, among other things, reducing the risk and intensifying the response to key population including Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), Sex Workers, Miners, Loggers and Migrant Labourers among others.
Addressing the gathering of local health care providers and officials Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy, Georgetown Bryan Hunt said it was important that these vulnerable populations be provided safe and supportive environment in which to obtain necessary HIV/AIDS-related services.
He said Guyana has made remarkable progress in this regard among which is: widely available HIV counselling and testing, improved access to treatment and uptake, improved availability of support services for HIV care such as lab testing, case navigation and government-supported complementary programs like the food bank, and decreased HIV-related mortality.
“To sustain the gains and achieve epidemic control, renewed focus is required for groups at elevaed risk for sustained transmission,” he stated; adding that “we need to continue working together to increase access to treatment for groups experiencing stigma and discrimination –whether actual or perceived,” Hunt added.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud endorsed the sentiments expressed by Hunt.
“The fight against HIV is still ongoing, we are not out of the woods,” he stated.
Persaud said a lot of work has been done locally to bring down transmission rates but noted that there are still some pockets of persons who remain high risk.
The CMO said it was sad that stigma and discrimination still haunt those affected and infected.