Special Covid-19 testing site for HIV patients

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Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony says by the week’s end, HIV patients would be able to comfortably and discretely get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

During today’s COVID-19 update, the Health Minister said his Ministry has been working along with the National Care and Treatment Centre to set up a COVID-19 vaccination site to accommodate HIV patients.

“One of the issues that we have heard is that persons who are HIV positive, did not feel comfortable coming to one of our regular vaccination sites. … We have been working with the National Care and Treatment Centre here in Georgetown, to make that also into a vaccination site, so they should start from this week.

So, patients going there for their regular treatment they will be counselled about taking the vaccine, and they can get the vaccine right there. We are hoping to replicate this at all our treatment sites so that these patients don’t have to feel uncomfortable,” Minister Anthony said.

The Minister is hopeful that this added measure would encourage HIV patients to get their COVID-19 vaccines, as HIV is a comorbidity which heightens a patient’s chances of being severely affected by the coronavirus.

“We’re hoping to see better uptake of the vaccine among this population…We will be monitoring with other types of patients as well, and we are hoping that we can introduce a similar service for patients with chronic non-communicable diseases and some of the more popular clinics that we have, that we would use these opportunities to talk to people about getting the vaccines.”

Meanwhile, Minister Anthony said more health centres in Region Four will now be used as vaccinations sites. He said with approximately 13 health centres operated between the Ministry of Health and the Municipality, this can provide greater accessibility.

Minister Anthony said training is being conducted with staff at the various health centres and the initiative should come on stream soon.

To date, 235,796 persons in Guyana have taken their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 114,394 persons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which accounts for 23.5 per cent of the adult population.