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– but donor support still forthcomingBy Sharmain Grainger“We are not out of the woods yet,Dale Murphy Braves Throwback Jersey,” said Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shamdeo Persaud,Authentic NFL Jerseys From China, of the HumanChief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo PersaudImmunodeficiency Virus (HIV) situation in Guyana. He disclosed during a recent interview with this publication that currently Guyana still sees just under 1,000 new cases, and a number of these are noticeably young people.“We are seeing younger and younger people being HIV-positive. The younger the people coming in, that means that we will have to care for them for a longer period of time, because the life expectancy rate among those persons has extended to almost that of non-HIV people,” related Dr. Persaud.He pointed out that once a person is diagnosed with HIV and treatment commences, this must be continued for the rest of that person’s life. He added though, “The big challenge is to keep that going and avoid complacency.  So I think that the monitoring systems in place; the systems to continue to address the sexual practices and the risky behaviours, must be re-emphasised.”And according to him, Government is playing an increasingly greater role in the national fight against HIV.  He disclosed that Government has almost fully taken up responsibility in this regard.While in the past Guyana depended heavily on donor support to source medication for instance, the CMO assured, “We are buying from many of the pharmaceutical agencies, fully, and in quantities that are adequate for the number of cases that we have on treatment.”But despite the commitment of Government, Dr. Persaud noted that support is nevertheless forthcoming to the public health sector. He disclosed that the United Nations agencies are altogether expected to continue to support Guyana for a while longer. This support, he explained, is trained mainly on reaching at-risk populations within Region Four.The at-risk populations are Commercial Sex Workers, Men who have Sex with Men, persons who are vulnerable because of their placement in less favourable environments, street dwellers and migrant-type workers.“They are providing a lot of support for these groups…The (US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) PEPFAR programme has been contracted based on the evidence that it has to focus a lot more on Region Four,” informed Dr. Persaud.This effort is complemented similarly in the other Regions by Government through the Ministry of Public Health. But according to the CMO, the number of positive cases found among the at-risk populations in the other Regions are significantly less when compared to what obtains in Region Four.WORTHWHILE INVESTMENTAlthough unable to put a figure to Government’s spending in the area of HIV, Dr. Persaud was able to share his conviction that measures to ‘prevent mother to child transmission’ have been dubbed one of Government’s biggest and most worthwhile investments.And because of the gains that have been made through this programme, Dr. Persaud said that the programme has been extended to include all antenatal sites, nationally.“We would like to have all mothers who go to antenatal clinics to be tested. The protocol requires that testing be done countrywide,Cheap Football Jerseys, twice. (Pregnant women) must be tested for HIV during the early stages and once before delivery,” related Dr. Persaud, as he added that “HIV could be present but not detected in the early stages.”He said, “If that person is pregnant it means that person has had unprotected sex and there is a chance that that person could be infected…so we are checking that.”Based on the Ministry’s data garnered through the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Dr. Persaud confided that the number of mother to child transmission cases has been reducing considerably.In 2014 Guyana’s transmission rate stood at 1.6 per cent which places it in a position to attain elimination status. But the data for last year is yet to be validated, according to Dr. Persaud.Cuba has been named the first country to achieve elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and “we can do that too,” the CMO added.Already Guyana has been striving to sustain a safe birthing programme for HIV-positive women. This, according to the CMO, entails a mostly normal birthing procedure with some little modifications in the cutting of the umbilical cord. Caesarean section has also been deemed a good way of safely delivering the babies of HIV infected women as there is even less exposure.“We would like to be the next country to declare that we have eliminated mother to child transmission. We have started to do some of the work and there is even a programme for the male partner,” Dr. Persaud divulged.This is particularly important, he said. “There is no point you are testing the mother and the men are probably having additional contact. That can put the mother at risk…so we are looking at all of that and then the follow-up and care of the children; we are trying to ensure that they (mothers) don’t breast feed.”Dr. Persaud noted that government has been supporting the use of breast milk substitutes in order to further its mother to child transmission programme.  Breast milk substitutes are procured and distributed regularly to HIV positive mothers.“They can’t say ‘oh,Discount NFL Jerseys, baby is out of milk, so I have to breastfeed’,” said Dr. Persaud. He added too,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, that there are other forms of nutritional support offered as part of the prevention programme.“Our (transmission) numbers have been coming down…even if we find a positive among the mothers seen, we immediately have measures that we put in place to ensure that the babies are not infected and so we think we can totally achieve elimination,China Jerseys Cheap, at least, by 2018,” said a confident Dr. Persaud.Guyana’s health sector has therefore fully embraced the ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal. This goal speaks to ensuring that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV know their status; 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy have viral suppression.It is the hope of UNAIDS that the 90-90-90 goal will be realised by 2020.
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