US renews support to local AIDS response
As the world observes World AIDS Day today, Guyana’s response received another shot in the arm as the US Embassy pledged that over the next five years the United States will place a renewed emphasis on partnering with this country.
“We will continue to work together with all sectors of Guyana as they craft strategies and programmes to combat HIV/AIDS, and we will support the Government of Guyana as it engages international partners, civil society and non-governmental organisations,” the embassy said in a release yesterday.
This will be done through the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through which the US has been helping those infected and affected with the virus in many countries around the world.
As part of the United States Global Health Initiative announced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, PEPFAR will support Guyana as it works to further integrate and expand access to other health care services, such as those that address tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and child health, and family planning with HIV/AIDS programmes. The release urged that all must work together to address the societal challenges that drive the spread of HIV.
Tracing PEPFAR’s success story in Guyana, the embassy noted that it has allocated more than US$100 million to the HIV/AIDS fight over a six-year period. It revealed that at the end of September 2009, the national programme, with the support of PEPFAR, had provided life-saving anti-retroviral therapy to 2,737 people and HIV care and support services to 5,399 persons infected with and affected by HIV. These included more than 1,300 children orphaned or made vulnerable because of AIDS and they received care and support services to improve their quality of life. According to the release PEPFAR also supported the expansion of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme which has provided testing to more than 11,000 pregnant women and anti-retroviral therapy to HIV positive pregnant women to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.
“The US commends the national programme for the decline in HIV prevalence seen over the last six years and the strength of programmes and support systems that have facilitated these important gains,” the release said.
According to the embassy, PEPFAR is the largest commitment in history by any nation to combat a single disease and stressed that the US is unwavering in its commitment to its partners.