by Ravin Singh
Efforts by the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) are continuing to reap success as Guyana has recorded a decrease in the HIV prevalence rate in the country from 1.9% to 1.4%.
This was announced by Deputy Programme Manager of NAPS, Dr Niccollette Boatswain at a press conference today.
HIV prevalence in Guyana has consistently been on the increase since 2014; jumping from 1.4% that year, to 1.7% in 2017, and more recently 1.9%.
However, the NAPS Programme Manager, noted that collective efforts saw that figure being reduced from 1.9% to 1.4%.
Presently, 8,200 Guyanese have tested positive for HIV, and among the most vulnerable group, is young people between the ages of 15-35, which Dr. Boatswain said has the highest prevalence rate.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at the end of 2018, 37.9 million people were living with HIV across the world.
And according to the Programme Manager, even with the decrease in Guyana, there remains an urgent need for strengthening the country’s awareness programme to bring the figure down further.
She said that it is for this reason NAPS saw it fitting to consistently engage the media which the Secretariat hopes will result in the masses being influenced positively.
She noted too that behavioural change is necessary if Guyana is to further improve its HIV rates.
In September, Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence had noted that 73% of infected persons are presently on treatment, while 81% have so far achieved viral suppression so they can no longer transmit the infection to their partners.
“We cannot be complacent. We must target our 15 to 25 (years) age group and new cases” Minister Lawrence had told reporters.
Guyana has already achieved the ’90-90-90’ target set by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), ahead of the 2020 deadline.
The 90-90-90 target aims to have, by 2020: 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression.