In HIV/AIDS fight…
GUM clinic treated more than 11,000 with ARVs
Guyana Chronicle
January 24, 2007

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MORE than 11,000 people living with HIV/AIDS have, so far, received treatment with anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) at the Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic since its establishment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Making the disclosure yesterday, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said ARVs have been scientifically proven to extend the lifespan of such patients through CD4 measurement and viral load testing.

When taken, the pharmaceuticals increase a person’s white blood cells or CD4 count and lengthens the individual’s life, GINA said.

According to the agency, patients who have been diagnosed since 2002 are still alive today because of such treatment.

The agency said the Ministry of Health has also established a monitoring system for patients on ARVs by examining their livers, kidneys and other body parts likely to become dysfunctional.

GINA said the GUM clinic was the first in Guyana to offer HIV/AIDS treatment using ARVs and was later joined by others in the public and private sectors.

By the end of 2005, at least eight public sector health centres in Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), Four (Demerara/Mahaica), Six (East Berbice/Corentyne), Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) and Ten (Upper Demerara/Berbice) were also providing treatment, GINA reported.

It said the number of persons accessing the benefit has grown since then and the government intends to ensure that 80 per cent of pregnant women similarly afflicted gain access to ARVs through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme.

GINA said, in June 2006, the government, in conjunction with the United States Centre for Disease Control and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) refurbished the GUM clinic to enlarge its capacity.

The remodelling process was done simultaneously with that of the Chest Clinic at the GPHC and the Campbellville Health Centre, with equipment costing $3M, GINA said.

The government, in 2005, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS for a one year supply of ARVs to children and, subsequently, moved to begin manufacturing and making it available free of cost to infected persons, GINA stated.

The agency said the medications are being produced by the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Company with funding from PEPFAR and, this year, programmes will be expanded to further the prevention, care and treatment initiatives.

Through the new Guyana National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the government will strive to effectively and efficiently mobilise resources to target the vulnerable population, GINA assured.

Eleven hundred – not 11,000

THE Government Information Agency (GINA) has said it made an error in a release issued Tuesday, and reported in yesterday’s Guyana Chronicle, on persons benefiting from ARV treatment at the GUM Clinic at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

The actual number of persons who benefited from ARV treatment is 1,100 and not 11,000 as it had reported, the agency said.