Mercy Hospital seeks to stem the HIV tide
Sixteen receive free anti-retrovirals
Stabroek News
April 18, 2004

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Sixteen HIV-positive people are receiving free treatment at the St Joseph Mercy Hospital under the `Stemming the Tide' programme funded by the Catholic Relief Services based in the Dominican Republic.

The programme commenced in earnest at the hospital at the end of September and since then some 200 people were tested free of cost at the hospital, according the Chief Executive Officer, Sister Sheila Walsh.

She told Stabroek News that the programme was entirely free and entailed counselling, testing, anti- retroviral drug treatment and hospitalisation, if this was necessary.

Of the 16 people currently on treatment at St Joseph, 11 are adults - ten women and one man - and five are children. Apart from the people receiving treatment, Sister Walsh said, there were others who had tested positive, but had opted not go on the treatment, and some who were not eligible for the treatment programme because they were not showing symptoms.

After people are counselled and tested, they are required to return for their results after a few days. But the CEO disclosed that in some instances people had failed to return for their results and in a few of these cases the people who failed to return had been positive for the virus.

The 16 patients being treated at St Joseph receive the standard anti-retroviral drugs manufactured locally, which the hospital accesses free through a special arrangement with the Ministry of Health.

Sister Walsh said that at present, the hospital was receiving sufficient funding from the 'Stemming the Tide' programme.

She described the local programme as quite successful, adding that mobile clinics now moved around George-town testing persons on the spot. The clinics go to Bel Air Lions Club, Meadow Bank Church and two other churches every other week. The mobile clinics are equipped with a social worker, a doctor, nurses, a laboratory technician and a clerk.