As Guyana prepares to join the observance of World AIDS Day tomorrow, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has noted that the country is making significant strides in combating this disease.
Speaking with DPI on Wednesday, the minister noted that among the new measures, is the introduction of Pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly called PrEP, which is now available for everyone who may need it.
“Prior to two years ago PrEP was only used in discordant couples, meaning that is a couple is together, one of them is HIV positive, the other on is not then they would have given PrEP to the person who is not infected, but we have changed that, because the WHO recommendation now is for any person who perceives themselves to be at risk for HIV can access pre-exposure prophylaxis,” Minister Anthony said.
There are some minor requirements to accessing this, based on a person’s medical background in relation to certain other diseases and medication that they may currently be taking.
Self-testing for HIV is also a new initiative that has made it easier for persons in Guyana to know their HIV status.
“With self-testing, you can do that at home, you get the kit, you do that at home so you are aware of what your test shows, whether it’s positive or negative, if its positive, then you can come in verify it at one of our testing sites and get linked to getting treatment, because if its positive then we will want to put you on treatment as quickly as possible, so that self-testing is something new that we have introduced.”
Minister Anthony noted that while more people are opting for self-testing, there are now 30 voluntary counselling and testing sites available in Guyana.
These also cater for other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The ministry hosting an International HIV/STI Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre where persons can learn more about the treatment options available.
“This would give people an update on HIV treatment and various aspects of HIV Treatment, whether it’s the new anti-retrovirals that are out, to be used in patients, how they work, what regimens that we have, that particular lecture will be done by an expert from the Mayo Clinic who is coming in to do that particular lecture,” the health minister said.
The event will also see the launch of publications of clinical guidelines for clinicians to adopt, among other features.