Some 8200 persons are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Guyana. This was revealed by Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence on Monda at the launch of World Aids Day 2019, which is to be observed on December 1.
“Our statistics reveal that there are 8200 children, adolescents, youths, women and men living with HIV. In 2018, about 500 new infections occurred in Guyana mainly from key populations and young people.”
The Minister was keen to note that of the 8200 persons living with the virus, 93 percent of them know their status, making Guyana the only Caribbean country to achieve the first 90 of the United Nation Aids (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 target ahead of the 2020 timeline.
The 90-90-90 target aims to diagnose 90 percent of all HIV positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy for 90 percent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of those treated by 2020.
When it comes to the other targets, 73 percent of infected persons are presently on treatment and 81 percent have so far achieved viral suppression so they can no longer transmit the infection to their partners. Going forward, the Minister announced a few plans in tackling HIV, which was classified as a chronic disease. One of the methods includes “social contracting” with civil society organizations.
She added that the Government has provided $10.9 million for 2019 and “is the first in the Caribbean to implement this approach in funding the work of civil society as a means of sustaining the HIV response while faced with shrinking donor funding,” Lawrence explained.
The role of the community in ending the transmission of HIV was underscored by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, who highlighted that stigma and discrimination are areas that still require much attention.
“This year UNAIDS and all the UN agencies along with member countries are focusing on the role that communities have to play in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
As most of you would know, this has been a long fight for Guyana and we have made significant gain but without the support of the communities, we are unable to move forward at a pace we would like to move to achieve the targets that we have set,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative, Dr. William Adu Krow noted that Guyana is well positioned to treat HIV, irrespective of who crosses its borders.
This year, World AIDS Day is themed, “Communities make the difference”.