Five-year strategic HIV plan to be rolled out

The Ministry of Health has announced the roll out a five-year strategic plan to tackle HIV/AIDS in Guyana.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony made the disclosure Monday last during DPI’s ‘The Progress Report’.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

“In another maybe week or so we are going to release a special plan strategic plan that we have for HIV and AIDS that is going to be going from this year to 2025 and would serve as our road map for the next five years,” he said.

Dr. Anthony said a more a more aggressive approach has to be taken to achieve the United Nations’ 90-90-90 target.

By the end of 2020, the UNAIDS programme seeks to achieve 90 per cent of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression.

Guyana has achieved the first goal which is people knowing their HIV status and is working towards accomplishing the other two.

“We currently have about 8,000 persons who are HIV positive and while we put most of these persons on treatment, we have to get all of them on treatment. Additionally, it’s not just about having them on treatment but to ensure that the treatment they are receiving is effective so that they can remain virally suppressed,” the Health Minister said.

Viral suppression could be used as a preventative measure to curb the spread of HIV.

“If we achieve viral suppression, persons who are infected would not be able to transmit the virus and therefore this is very important as a preventative tool as well,” Dr. Anthony explained.

He emphasised the need for more targeted approaches to address HIV/AIDS. One such approach is the “comprehensive prep.”

“We also want to prevent new infections from happening and we’ll be doing a lot of work with persons who are at risk and one of the things we want to introduce is to ensure that have what we call a comprehensive prep. That is preexposure prophylaxis because if you use the medication before sexual contact and use it as prescribed you can prevent infections from occurring,” Dr. Anthony said. The Health Minister noted that the measure has been effective in several countries and it should be no different in Guyana.