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Dr. Karen Francis-Cummings
(APNU/AFC Coalition Shadow Minister for Health)
On this World AIDS Day 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have called for countries around the world to end inequalities and inequities, end the AIDS pandemic, and ensure that people who have been left behind are reached.
Owing to the inequities in health care globally, by 2030, it has been reported that 7.7 million AIDS related deaths would occur. However, if health care systems are strengthened to provide universal health care services and HIV -related services, 4.6 million of these deaths could be prevented. Therefore, the AIDS pandemic must not be a choice for the health sector alone but must be a political choice.
In Guyana, there must not be business as usual during colliding pandemics. There must be the beefing up of harm reduction services for drug users; there must be the involvement of the communities and relevant stakeholders to help to build trust and confidence among people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) to tackle this scourge. Adequate resources and the necessary tools must be provided for frontline and at-risk workers who have been doing a fantastic job despite low wages.
THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW! While the government is yet to roll out HIV self-testing to improve the diagnosis of PLWHA, the government must prevent delays in Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and adapt and adopt a community -based
approach to help in the fight against stigma and discrimination.
The APNU/AFC Coalition calls on the Government to reach the goal of 95-95-95 by 2025 (95 percent
of persons living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of persons who know their HIV status are on anti-retroviral treatment, and 95 per cent of such persons are virally suppressed). With the disruption of some services during the COVID19 Pandemic,
let there be a collective action by the Government, Opposition, program managers, policy makers, and stakeholders to encourage persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) to have access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatment for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, tuberculosis, and other co-morbidities. Let us reduce hospitalizations and in-hospital mortality due to COVID-19 co-morbidity.
I thank you.