Almost half of sex workers have HIV
-health ministry

Stabroek News
June 5, 2003

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Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, has said that 45% of commercial sex workers are infected with HIV/ AIDS.

In the wider population, five to seven percent of the sexually active population, or one out of twenty persons, are infected.

A release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said Ramsammy had announced that through a programme with the Canadian International Development Agency, improvements were to be made to Guyana’s health information system, and this would provide statistical indicators.

The GINA release said that in terms of sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis and genital herpes, there was an average 18 to 20 per cent prevalence rate among cases treated by the Genital Urinary Clinic (GUM).

According to the release, these persons are at high risk of contracting HIV.

Ramsammy indicated that Guyana had a fairly strong educational programme involving NGOs and school health clubs.

The minister also told GINA that family life education had been expanding in the schools’ curriculum to inculcate responsible sexual behaviour.

In the area of stepping up the campaign on HIV/AIDS in communities he said, “We need to teach young ladies that love and sex are not the same. One could love and not have sex.”

And while the ministry’s HIV/AIDS awareness campaign started with a focus on using condoms, he told GINA, “this is where we’re correcting our approach,” adding that persistence was needed among education awareness campaigners in order to translate education into action

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