Public health ministers take lead – as National ‘Days of Testing’ launched
GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The National Aids Programme Secretariat’s (NAPS) National ‘Days of Testing’ was today, re-launched under the theme “Test and Start a New Life”. The testing will run from November 16 to November 20.
The launch was held at NAPS’ Hadfield Street and College Road headquarters, Georgetown.
At the launch, Minister of Public Health (MOPH), Dr. George Norton; Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings; Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Karen Boyle; Health Services Development Unit, MOPH, Dr. Morris Edwards, and Permanent Secretary of the MOPH, Trevor Thomas were all facilitated to have an HIV/AIDS test.
National Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Co-ordinator, Deborah Success-Hall said that, “for these days, we would like to target the high risk group between the ages of 15 to 19, 20 to 25.”
Success-Hall emphasised that confidentiality is important, and that at testing sites throughout the country, counselling is available for persons who test positive for HIV.
Minister Norton said within the next five days, as NAPS embarks on ‘targeted testing’ persons should know their status, and “if negative
adapt measures to stay negative, and if positive, get the treatment.”
The targeted testing will reach out to the pre-specified 15 to 49 age group, as well as commercial sex workers and Men who have Sex with Men. Preventative measures promoted include abstinence, condom use, and faithfulness to one’s partner, and in the case of pregnant mothers, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, (PMTCT).
Statistics presented at the launch for the period of January to June 2016, show that 40, 331 tests were done countrywide. Additionally, it has been recognised that Guyana now ranks sixth in the Caribbean for HIV prevalence.
The VCT Coordinator suggested to the ministers that there should be discussions with the Ministry of Education to venture into facilitating HIV/AIDS testing and counselling services in secondary schools since the targeted age range captures school aged persons.
Seventeen (17) temporary testing sites will be set up at popular locations across Guyana including all Republic Bank branches, and the City and Giftland Malls.
By: Delicia Haynes