US Medical Officers conduct HIV/AIDS training in GDF
Stabroek News
May 27, 2002

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Two senior officers from the United States Army, Colonel Gemryl Samuels and Lieu-tenant Colonel Michael Custer, conducted training in HIV/AIDS prevention with members of the Guyana Defence Force at Camp Ayanganna and Base Camp Stevenson between May 13 and May 17.

Classes were conducted on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and AIDS with over 400 members of the GDF, while special classes were held for personnel from the Public Relations and Education department to facilitate them continuing HIV/AIDS education as part of standard GDF training. Training was also provided to personnel from the GDF Medical Corps on protecting themselves and others in the course of their duties.

The main emphasis of the training was the preventative measures soldiers should use to ensure they remain infection free. It also focused on the unique characteristics of the AIDS pandemic in Guyana.

The members of the GDF were also provided with information on education and policy as practised in the US army to manage HIV/AIDS infection among their soldiers.

The training, sponsored by the US Southern Command and administered through the US Embassy here in George-town, was initiated following discussions between Chief-of-Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Michael Atherly and Major General Gary Speer, Acting Commander-in-Chief of the US Southern Command, during his visit here in January of this year.

Over the years, the US Government has been rendering assistance to the Guyanese Government by providing medical expertise in this country, and among the programmes completed were donations of medical equipment and supplies as well as disease surveillance and monitoring.

According to the US Embassy Military Liaison Officer, Major Tyler Fitzgerald, the US Peace Corps Volunteers are involved in health education projects throughout Guyana and within the next few weeks, the embassy would be increasing its staff to address the HIV/AIDS problem with the assignment of two Centers for Disease Control personnel to work with Guyana's health ministry.

According to Major Fitzgerald, one of the medical personnel will be an epidemiologist.