In effort to meet UNAIDS 90/90/90 goal
8,215 persons diagnosed with HIV at the end of 2017
Couples’ testing promoted during the three-month campaign period
The National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) has launched the ‘Know Your Status – Guyana’ campaign to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS.
This campaign concept is part of the World AIDS Day theme ‘Know Your Status’, promoting HIV testing to be observed on December 1.
It is also geared towards reaching the UNAIDS 90/90/90 target. This 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.
Knowing one’s status is the first step in attaining the 90 percent diagnosis mark. Dr. Rhonda Moore, Programme Manager at NAPS, said Guyana is on the move to attaining such an achievement.
“At the end of 2017, Guyana was recorded as having an estimated 8,215 persons living with HIV that equated to a prevalence of 1.6 percent of the population. Of that amount, 7100 were aware that they were HIV positive, 5,237 were receiving sustained treatment and 3414 were found to be virally suppressed. This, in essence, left us at 86 percent for the first 90, 74 percent for the second 90 and 65 percent as it relates to the third 90.”
She added that there is much work still to be done to ensure HIV positive diagnosed persons are receiving treatment and 90% of those meet to a stage of viral suppression.
Even as NAPS puts the prevention of the spread of the infection high on the agenda it is appealing to specific target groups to be tested, especially men as more males test positive. Also, Moore called for certain hindrances to be removed, allowing greater access treatment for HIV. These might include stigma and discrimination, marginalization, violence, laws and policies among others. In light of all this, NAPS will take on a more community-based approach in rolling out this campaign.
UNAIDS Country Director to Guyana and Suriname, Dr. Martin Odiit explained that too many people still die from HIV-related illnesses in spite of treatment made available.
He also said about 25 percent of the people worldwide don’t even know that they have the HIV infection. On this note, he encouraged couples’ testing by indicating that it is in the best interest of both partners.
“Globally new infections are not declining fast enough and too many people still die from AIDS-related illnesses despite the availability of high quality and effective treatment, so I am saying we know what to do when somebody is HIV positive and alas some people are still not getting the treatment because of societal pressures.”
This campaign will run for a three-month period and will take on the form of a number of public awareness engagements where persons will be provided with the opportunity to be tested for HIV/AIDS.
Some activities throughout this campaign period include school essay competitions, an awareness walk, school sensitization, temporary testing sites and mobile testing being done in Georgetown while health facilities have been earmarked to initiate counselling and testing.
Those facilities are the Kitty, Campbellville, Beterverwagting and Dorothy Bailey Health Centres, the Enmore Polyclinic, the Cheddi Jagan Dental School and the Diamond Diagnostic Centre. An HIV/AIDS forum is also planned for February 2019 to conclude the campaign period.