Another US$34M to boost Guyana's AIDS fight
Stabroek News
July 10, 2004

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Guyana's HIV/AIDS fight will be further expanded with the recent announcement of another US$34M from the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which will be utilised over the next five years through Family Health International (FHI).

In a press release yesterday, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said FHI will lead a team of partners to support the Government of Guyana's expansion of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programmes.

It said that over the next five years the team will help USAID/Guyana achieve the PEPFAR goals of treating 2,000 HIV-positive people, preventing 15,000 new infections, and providing care and support services for up to 9,000 people, with particular emphasis on orphans and vulnerable children.

At present, FHI is supporting the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme with a PEPFAR grant of US$3.4M, which is a 14-month programme, set up in December.

"With these additional resources the US government emphasises the importance it places on the fight against HIV/AIDS and will allow the Government of Guyana to turn the tide against this devastating epidemic. We are confident that the team selected has the expertise and experience - globally and in Guyana - to achieve the plan's ambitious goals," the release quoted Mission Director of USAID/Guyana, Dr Mike Sarhan as saying.

According to the release as part of the USAID/Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Project, FHI will lead a team of partners, including Cicatelli Associates Incorporated (CAI), Howard Delafield Intentional (HDI) and Management Sciences of Health (MSH). The project team will support the Guyana government's ongoing HIV/AIDS care and treatment programme by helping to establish the necessary health infrastructure, systems and provider skills so that anti-retroviral drugs (including PMTCT programmes) and other opportunistic treatment regimens can be safely and effectively delivered. The programme will also work with local organisations, including faith-based organisations, to help prevent new infections. The Caribbean Council of Churches (CCC), an adviser to the project, will provide training and help build the capacity to achieve these goals.

And the President of FHI's Institute for HIV, Dr Peter Lamptey said: "FHI supported by USAID, has worked closely with the Government of Guyana since 2000 to implement HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes. We are delighted to receive additional support from the US Government to work with a stellar team of partners and rapidly expand these efforts."

The release noted that Guyana is the third smallest country in South America and it faces an HIV/AIDS epidemic second only to Haiti's among countries in the region; an estimated 18,000 of Guyana's 763,000 people are HIV-positive.

Guyana is one of the 15 priority countries identified by the unprecedented PEPFAR. President George W. Bush and the US Congress have committed to treating two million HIV/AIDS sufferers, preventing seven million new infections, and providing care and support for ten million people living with HIV/AIDS, including orphans. The US$15 billion five-year plan encompasses HIV/AIDS activities in more than 75 countries in Africa and the Caribbean to develop comprehensive and integrated prevention, care and, in an historic way, treatment programmes.