Negligible increase recorded in HIV prevalence

The original article can be found in: Kaieteur News

Although negligible, the Ministry of Health last year recorded an increase in the prevalence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This development comes even as the Ministry, through its HIV fighting arm, the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), has been making ardent strides to reduce the impact of the epidemic.
This state of affairs was in fact highlighted in a statement issued by NAPS yesterday.
It was revealed that while in 2011 there was a 1.1 per cent prevalence of the disease, the prevalence rate mounted to 1.3 per cent.  This percentage, according to NAPS, accounted for the prevalence among the adult population, an age range covering individuals between 15 and 49 living with HIV in Guyana.
However, NAPS has attributed the subtle increase to the effective treatment programme whereby persons with the disease are adhering to their treatment. This has allowed for infected persons to not only live longer and healthy lives, but even fewer deaths are AIDS-related.
Moreover, it has been established by NAPS that the Estimated Annual AIDS deaths have been reduced to less than 100, compared to less than 500 in 2011.  It has been deduced too that the number of persons newly infected with HIV during the past year is estimated at less than 500. This, according to NAPS, comes even as the national HIV programme is seeking to significantly reduce new infections.
However, reducing the prevalence of the disease continues to be a challenge, since Guyana’s epidemic is characterized as one concentrated among key populations at higher risk, namely female sex workers and men who have sex with men.
“These populations along with miners and loggers have been prioritized in the recently launched HIVision 2020 – the eight-year Strategic Plan for the HIV Programme – and will see intensified efforts to curb high risk sexual behaviour and promote behavioural changes among these groups,” NAPS has disclosed.
A complete report on the global HIV epidemic, based on the 2012 Estimates, will be published by the United Nations AIDS Programme (UNAIDS) in time for the UN General Assembly in September 2013 on the Mid-Term Review of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. Estimates, according to NAPS, will be developed for countries on an annual basis as opposed to biennially as was previously the case.
The Estimates would be presented in detail, in addition to remarks from the Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran; Dr Shanti Singh, NAPS Programme Manager, and Dr Roberto Campos, Country Director of UNAIDS.
NAPS will today spearhead a stakeholder dissemination meeting on the 2012 National HIV/AIDS Estimates. And according to NAPS, the purpose of the meeting is to present to a wide stakeholder group the estimates arrived at for the HIV epidemic from a UNAIDS workshop conducted in May 2013 in Trinidad.
The stakeholders’ group will comprise Coordinators of NAPS, Directors and Programme Managers within the Health Ministry, representatives from Civil Society groups, international technical agencies and external funding partners among others.
Draft Estimates were developed at the Workshop which was attended by representatives from the Caribbean Region and have been finalized by individual countries over the subsequent months with technical support from the UNAIDS Estimates Team in Geneva.
According to NAPS, “these Estimates are important to the national HIV/AIDS programme and the health sector as a whole, since they provide an indication as to the progress in reducing the impact of the epidemic.”
Estimations are developed for indicators such as HIV prevalence in the adult population, new HIV infections and need for Antiretroviral Treatment among Adults and children, as well as pregnant women

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