GEORGETOWN Guyana, March 26th, 2012 -- The Guyanese population is taking ownership of HIV and AIDS and taking action to help stop its spread. According to Ms. Deborah Success-Hall, National Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Coordinator, National AIDS Programme Secretariat, there are only few countries that can equal Guyana’s record of adults who know their HIV status.
This is evidenced by the National Week of Testing (NWT) which in 2011 saw a total number of 45, 198 persons being tested for HIV.
“The increasing number of Guyanese accessing VCT services each year during NWT, the expanding multisectoral support of the initiative, the drastic reduction in stigma and discrimination, the laudable involvement of ordinary citizens in the process and the colossal decrease in the incidence of HIV in Guyana are all staunch indicators of the conspicuous revolution that has taken place over the last six years”, Ms. Success- Hall said.
In 2006, when NWT was first introduced only 1,197 persons were tested since VCT services were only being offered at 26 sites in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. This figure has increased rapidly over the years and to date, there are 78 established VCT sites in all 10 Administrative Regions of Guyana along with two mobile units.
Whilst there continues to have slightly more females testing than males, improvements have been noted as this has moved from 35 percent males testing in 2006 to 47.4 percent in 2011 closing the gap between men and women accessing testing services.
Additionally, Ms. Success-Hall added that Guyana continues to make inroads in preventing new infections. This is measured and evident in programmatic data, special surveys and studies conducted by the Programme. Data from NWT confirms this position as the proportion of persons testing positive for HIV reduced over the years from 1.9 percent in 2006 to 0.5 percent in 2011.
“NWT is deemed a success as it has fully achieved it objectives. The awareness on HIV and VCT has increased. The large number of persons testing received high quality counseling and testing services in an environment that fostered confidentiality by professional and highly skilled personnel.
The counseling services are of the highest quality and HIV tests are conducted in full compliance with national and international laboratory standards,” Ms. Success-Hall noted.
Guyana’s NWT falls under Priority Area 3 – Prevention of HIV Transmission - of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF) 2008- 2012, which guides the work of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP).
The CRSF takes a more country-centered approach, recognizing that success in individual country programmes is essential for overall regional success in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Under Priority Area 3 there is a renewed emphasis on prevention as the most cost-effective approach, using evidence based programmes to enable access to services by most-at-risk populations (MARPs).
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