Some 8,700 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Guyana

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Message by Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony For World AIDS Day to be Observed on December 1, 2020 Under the Theme: “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”

Today, we join the world to mark World AIDS Day, which has been observed globally on this day every year since 1988. This year, the theme as selected by the United Nations (UN) is, “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed almost 33 million lives so far globally. Also, it is estimated that 38 million people around the world were living with HIV at the end of 2019.

However, with increasing access to effective HIV/AIDS prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for “opportunistic” infections, HIV has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.

Guyana remains committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 which would require an unceasing effort and shared responsibility by not just our international and local partners, but also that of the Persons Living HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).

Established in 1992, the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) under the Ministry of Health is mandated to coordinate the national HIV response. Currently, the Secretariat oversees 48 functional fixed voluntary counselling and testing sites and offers treatment at 26 locations across the country.

Over the years, Guyana’s national HIV response has benefited from technical guidance and partnerships with both governmental and non-governmental agencies, as well as regional and international partners.

I am happy to announce Guyana was identified among countries in the Caribbean to have made significant strides in achieving the first 90 of the UNAIDS 2020 “90-90-90” goal (by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression).

Towards the end of 2019, Guyana had recorded 8,700 PLHIV, with 73 percent on antiretroviral therapy and 75 percent on virally suppression.

With strategic implementation over the next year, the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) programme is expected to take pre-emptive action against the spread of the disease and will be available for those who are at risk of HIV infection.

I assure all Guyanese that HIV/AIDS remains high on our agenda, and this year’s observance of World AIDs Day will see the launch of Guyana’s revised and finalised National Strategic Plan (NSP) for 2021-2025, which sets out our priorities for HIV prevention

In addition, a virtual discussion on the overarching HIV programme in Guyana is scheduled involving several local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), while there will be one webinar each on Transgender Medicine and Hormonal Therapy, and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

Clearly, as the theme suggests, in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we all have a role to play, and it is my intention that, as the Minister of Health, we will work to strengthen our relations with local NGOs and religious organisations as we partner to fight against HIV and improve our HIV/AIDS programme.

We will also continue to collaborate with our international partners as we seek technical support and best practices to continue providing much needed services to the people of Guyana who are affected with HIV.

As we observe World AIDS Day, I say thanks to all our staff for the tremendous work they have been doing, especially at the community level to educate, empower and provide health care for our people.

I thank you for your support and encourage you to continue carrying out your respective responsibilities, as this is key and critical in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.