HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
What the People say about...
Stabroek News
October 20, 2003

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This week Stabroek News listened to persons thoughts on the effectiveness of programmes and projects used in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Guyana. We also asked them if they knew how the disease could be transmitted and what could be done to make the lives of HIV/AIDS infected persons better.

Don Johnson - Student: I know you can catch HIV/AIDS through blood transfusions. I was educated on the subject at school only once, in Primary Four. Then we were given a talk on how the disease could be avoided, by using a condom every time, to make sure when you go to a barber shop the razor blades are sterilised, and to have new syringes every time you are tested. No demonstrations were made as we were too young at the time. More education is needed on AIDS. Id like to be told in every possible way how the disease can be transferred.

Vishaal Persaud - Student: I think its very sad that we have a disease like HIV/AIDS. I know you can catch it through sex and blood transfusions. The best way to avoid it in those situations is to use a condom and think twice in general. I had HIV/AIDS education at school. It was an individual subject there. We have the Ministry of Education Guidance class, where they came in and talked to us about AIDS. I do not know anyone who has the disease but have seen people with it. There are a lot of awareness campaigns going on. I have seen programmes on television and radio. Then there are flyers being given out and condom vending machines. I do think more research is needed, and more drugs should be made available in Guyana. Generally though you can only do so much, its up to people to look after themselves.

D. Singh - concerned citizen: I know you can catch HIV/AIDS through injections and sexual transmissions. Three people I know have the disease. At school the education I had on AIDS was OK. It was not a school subject but talks were given every year. People would come in and give us demonstrations, project pictures, and examples of famous people with the disease. At present there are programmes being run in my community where speeches are made through the sports clubs. Ive also seen programmes on HIV/AIDS through radio, television, and newspapers. Then there are flyers and billboards on the streets. I feel more could be done to combat the disease. Communities should have conference centres with people from the Ministry of Health coming in to urban areas talking to the communities.

Royan Sattaur - student: I know you can catch HIV/AIDS through unprotected sex, needles that are infected, and people sharing needles when using drugs. I was educated on the disease at school. It was part of our social studies. We got a basic idea of what it was all about, but it was not in-depth. Ive heard HIV/AIDS programmes on the radio. There are campaigns I know of that are against curing people with HIV/AIDS, saying they should be segregated. I feel the message is not coming through strongly enough. The Ministries of Education and Health need to improve their advertising campaign. Posters should be printed, and awareness through word of mouth needs to be stronger. Generally people dont know enough. For instance if a person knows someone has HIV/AIDS, they stay away thinking its contagious.

Oneika John - Secondary School Student: We practice abstinence because we know that the disease can be spread through sexual intercourse, the use of dirty needles and through mother to child transmission. I know at least one person infected with the virus and that person works. I think that the programmes being instituted are working to help prevent the spread of the disease and to make life for those already infected easier. More can be done.

Ronnelle Dawson - Student of the YWCA: I know that the disease is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse and through mother to child transmission. I think that the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Initiative funded by the United States Government is a good one which will save young lives from HIV/AIDS. I actually know someone with HIV/AIDS and the person is walking around continuing with life. I know that you should not scorn persons living with HIV/AIDS. You should show them love and respect and not discriminate against them. I do think however that for a small population like Guyana the number of HIV/AIDS infected persons is too high.

Ronda Edwards - concerned citizen: I am not scared to shake the hand of a person infected with HIS /AIDS, or to sit and talk with them. We should share love. There is no need to be scared because the disease is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, through sharing of dirty needles and from a mother to her child. The child could become infected while coming down the birth canal. I think that you should give the persons respect and let them know that they are still a part of society. As to if HIV/AIDS infected persons should be allowed to remain working among people without disclosing their condition, I believe that if you are in the medical profession where you have to closely interact with people they should know of your condition. I think that the Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drug programme is a good move on behalf of the government, but people may still be scared to come forward for the test and for the treatment afterwards. The authorities should try to develop more drugs to help those with the disease, but enough could never be done. I appreciate what the government is doing to make the lives of HIV/AIDS infected persons better.

Barbara Lodim - Housewife: The programmes are working, I can see that the government and other agencies are trying hard to combat HIV/AIDS. I think that it makes sense for the health officials to test persons and to make the ARV treatment available for those who need it most. It is also good that the drugs are made here which has brought the cost down significantly. I have a son who drives a minibus and I warn him to be careful because although the drugs may add years to the life of the infected person, it is not a cure. The help that the US Government has given is in terms of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme.

Ammeza Haniff - Student: I dont think that enough is being done to fight the disease. They need to get the youths together and talk to them. Many young people coming up still dont know how the disease is caused or how they can and cannot be infected. The programmes on stream presently are good for the quality care of the HIV/AIDS infected persons. The mother to child prevention programme is also a good initiative. It is also good that the ARV programme is being taken to areas other than the city. People will get themselves checked and not have to come all the way to the city. I know that you cant get the disease through casual contact and I would not move away if an HIV/AIDS infected person came and sat next to me. The person may need your love and support at that very moment. We are all humans and no one should be treated differently.

Orin A. Moore self-employed: I would not treat people with HIV/AIDS differently because I know that the disease cannot be transmitted through casual contact. I would not want to shun the person because he or she has the infection. The disease is transmitted through anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, blood transfusion and from a mother to her child. I dont think that enough is being done to combat the disease. A lot more needs to be done. They should introduce more awareness programmes in the schools. I believe that abstinence is the best protection and I think that parents need to talk with their children about sex in relation to HIV/AIDS.