Five-year study finds…
Poverty, risky behaviour fuelling spread of HIV

Kaieteur News
December 23, 2006

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Poverty, risky behaviour, gender roles and relations, stigma and discrimination, cultural and social norms, and the differences among the generations are the main issues fuelling the spread of HIV/AIDS in Guyana.

This is according to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2007-2011.

According to the five-year document, stigma and discrimination play a significant role in driving the epidemic underground in certain marginalised sub-groups, such as male sex workers, prison inmates, and commercial sex workers.

Many male/female relationships are still male-dominated, leaving women and girls in a weaker position when it comes to determining their sexual relations, thus making them more vulnerable to HIV infection. The plan also noted that, in order to survive, poor and marginalised groups sometimes indulge in risk taking behaviours, which also make them more susceptible to HIV infection.

Among these groups are the Indigenous Peoples who, while they live in largely isolated rural communities, are among the poorest, and do not easily access services, the document notes.

In addition, as the economy continues to grow, and work in the hinterland develops, travel and communication will create opportunities for the spread of the epidemic if interventions and strategies are not put in place.

The significant determinants in terms of behaviour are multiple sex partners, inconsistent use of condoms, sex with commercial sex workers, substance abuse and HIV (alcohol and ganja), lack of perception of personal risk, inconsistency between knowledge and behaviour modification change, myths on transmission, and the taboo on sex discussion.

The economic determinants are listed as inadequate economic growth, unemployment and underemployment, rural/urban migration, a mobile population in search of economic opportunities, and the increase in cross-border travel.

The plan listed prostitution as a determinant for the disease in the tourism sector.