The fight against aids
Guyana Chronicle
December 15, 2001

THE dire implications for our population particularly the teenagers posed by the deadly disease AIDS, must warrant our immediate and most urgent attention. Recent evidence indicates that Guyana is one of the Caribbean's worst affected, HIV/AIDS countries. But statistics alone cannot capture the stigma, stress and suffering that has been synonymous with AIDS, which has been universally declared to be the most, serious health crisis of modern times.

Guyana's first AIDS case was reported in 1987. The largest numbers of Guyanese affected are found to be between the ages of 19-35, with about 20,000 having contracted it, many persons dying in their teens.

Individual awareness is considered a key factor in the fight against the AIDS pandemic, since the main reason it is still being spread rapidly is because too many of those infected have been unaware they were living with HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS.

It must serve as a pointed and timely reminder for us to learn that the epidemic has precipitated social, economic and spiritual turmoil. In other countries such as Kenya and Malawi, it has nullified many, social, development gains. It also discriminates against the poor and children.

Normally, children would experience myriad problems should one or both parents become ill. They are effectively left with no alternative but to undergo hardships.

Changes in the socio-economic profile of AIDS can have a potentially, devastating effect on the poor. Internationally, HIV infection has been confirmed to be spreading at a faster rate among the illiterate population, than among the more educated and better-off members of the society. HIV/AIDS workers, inclusive of the medical profession have suggested that, the 'education vaccine' is the best protection to combat the spread of the dreaded infection.

To curb the alarming incidence of AIDS in our country, the PPP/C government has renewed its commitment to providing care and support for the increasing number affected.

Recently a pilot project was initiated by the Ministry of Health targeted at lessening the number of babies infected by 50 per cent. Health Minister. Dr. Leslie Ramsammy recently announced at the launching of the National AIDS campaign that his Ministry will be making essential drugs available, at a cost, which all Guyanese can afford.

In keeping with the International Aids Day theme of 'we care, do you?' and in support of the UN AIDS programme, and our national health objectives, all strata of our society including our government must now unequivocally pledge strong commitment to eradicate the killer, AIDS once and for all!
C. Majeed.