Guyana working to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV by end of 2024
Guyana has made tremendous progress in reducing the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, as well as the overall number of HIV infections among women.
Director of Primary Health Care, Dr Ertenisa Hamilton said the health sector will be advancing its capacity to ensure mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is eliminated by the end of 2024.
Speaking at the World AIDS Day Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) Sunday last, Dr Hamilton announced that the MTCT rate in 2022 was recorded at 1.1 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent in 2021.
She noted that there has been an increase in testing which surpassed the 95 per cent target for 2021 and 2022. Testing for male partners also saw an 11 per cent increase in 2022.
“Currently we have services on a continuous basis for prevention of mother-to-child transmission in 203 of our 324 primary healthcare facilities…So that means that our country is doing very well in relation to HIV testing,” Dr. Hamilton stated.
The medical practitioner noted that there will be a full integration into the primary healthcare system, where sites will be providing care and treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women.
The guidelines will also be changed to include the measuring of viral load during pregnancy, while the laboratory services are going to be strengthened countrywide to increase monitoring and surveillance.
“We are now in the era of the EMTCT Plus, which is the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, not just of HIV and syphilis, but there has been an addition of Chagas and Hepatitis B. Guyana has begun the process of Hepatitis B elimination but we are still working on Chagas,” she highlighted.
The health ministry is working to ensure there are more case trackers within the system that would provide information and assist pregnant mothers dealing with HIV.
The aim is to ensure those expectant mothers stay engaged in treatment and receive essential psychosocial support tailored to their specific needs.