Ministry aims to freeze emergence of new HIV cases
Kaieteur News
August 3, 2004

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THE Health Ministry has embarked on a six-year campaign intended to freeze the emergence of new HIV cases in Guyana.

This was announced by Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday, when he launched the New Start Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCT) for HIV at Parika.

The facility is a joint venture of the Guyana Government and USAID, facilitated through Population Services International (PSI).

Minister Ramsammy stressed that the campaign goal is not impossible.

"I know a lot of people will say that this can never become a reality, but it is not an impossibility; it is very achievable."

He explained that the objective of the Prevention of the Mother to Child Transmission Programme is to reach and treat every pregnant mother in Guyana infected with HIV/AIDS.

This initiative, he said, will ensure that no other baby is born with the virus, thus assisting in the realisation of the objective.

With regards to adults, Minister Ramsammy said Government has been concentrating extensively on prevention (through awareness and education) programmes aimed at reducing the incidence of the infection.

He added that VCT sites, such as the one launched yesterday, would be set up throughout Guyana, so that every Guyanese will be able to access testing and counselling.

He called on all Guyanese to commit to working towards the goal of stemming the emergence of new HIV cases.

PSI Country Director, Pamela Faura noted that her organisation has instituted five other VCT centres in various parts of Guyana.

She explained that the other sites were erected through partnership agreements with other agencies already involved in the battle against the pandemic.

The other sites are: the Linden Care Foundation; St Francis Community Developers in Rose Hall, Berbice; and the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association and Lifeline Counselling Services in Georgetown.

Faura noted, however, that the testing centre at Parika is the only one that is independently run by PSI.

The centre, which will officially open its doors to the public tomorrow, is located at the Two Brothers Service Station.

Faura said the facility would be offering counselling to persons so that they can make a choice about being tested for HIV.

She stressed that at New Start Testing Centres, all information is strictly confidential.

The Director added that during counselling, persons would be presented with options that fit their specific lifestyles to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the HIV virus.

For persons who test negative, the centre will provide information on how they can stay HIV free. The centre will make referrals for medical and emotional support for those who test positive.

The centre will also offer information on other Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Persons will be asked to pay a nominal fee of $200.