Guyana to press stronger treatment and care response to HIV/AIDS
- Ramsammy
Stabroek News
March 14, 2002

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Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy is optimistic that Guyana stands to benefit from the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

And Guyana will be putting a stronger treatment and care component into its response to the disease, in addition to its education and awareness programmes.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release, the minister returned on Monday from an international seminar hosted by the IDB in Florteleza, Brazil, on >HIV/AIDS and Development: Responses and Challenges in the Caribbean and Latin America=.

He left Guyana on March 6 to participate in discussions on improved access to comprehensive prevention, and treatment for people infected with HIV/AIDS.

According to the release, Ramsammy was a panelist on discussions highlighting the economic impact, the resource needs and the effect of discrimination, stigma and gender on HIV and AIDS programmes. The impact of the disease on public policy formulation and implementation was also discussed.

The minister told GINA that the IDB was interested in HIV/AIDS as a development issue and as a result will be formulating strategies in support of the cause at its Annual General Meeting, which is currently being held in Brazil.

The caucus in Brazil was aimed at drawing the attention of leaders and decision-makers of Latin America and the Caribbean to the rising prevalence of the disease in the region, and the socio-economic implications of its spread and possible prevention interventions to confront the pandemic.

The release quoted the minister as saying "the IDB as a partner in development with several countries, has recognised that and is seeking consensus as to how to become involved in the process of helping countries to respond to the HIV/AIDS problem."

Ramsammy said that the seminar was designed to address the macro-economic issue of HIV/AIDS and how the bank could help. The minister told GINA that at the five-day seminar a general consensus was taken between the donor agencies and technical supporters that Guyana's response to HIV/AIDS had to include a stronger treatment and care component.

The IDB, in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), is hosting the session as part of its global fight against HIV/AIDS.

According to GINA, for 2001, there were 450 newly-reported HIV cases and there are about 20,000 people living with the virus in Guyana. However, this may not be a true figure since many persons are reluctant to have the test done.