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Guyana should inject more funds into HIV/AIDS programmes- UNAIDS official

UNAIDS Resident Coordinator (Guyana), Roberto Campos

Guyana needs to dispense more cash into HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria because international funds are drying up to fight those diseases, a senior United Nations official said here on Thursday.

While the country is on track to achieving the UN-set Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Number 6, Country Coordinator for UNAIDS, Roberto Campos said the country needed to provide 50 percent of funding to match the remainder from overseas to continue to combat those diseases.

“The very first challenge that we have now is about the sustainability of the response considering that all those funds, all those data, all those achievements are not coming from domestic funds and so Guyana is heavily dependent on international funds and that’s a challenge for the near future,” he said.

Campos said the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health and civil society have teamed up to craft a work-plan up to 2015 as cash from the Global Fund dwindles.  He said the most critical component is the provision of anti-retroviral treatment for 4,200 persons.

An AIDS hospice has since closed its doors because funding from the United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has dried up.

Latest UN-verified figures show that 87 percent of persons living with HIV and AIDS are receiving anti-retroviral treatments and 89 percent of mothers are on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). He said that Guyana was one of 10 countries globally that have achieved universal access to treatment and the elimination of mother to child transmission.

Although the overall prevalence rate is 1.3 percent, Campos noted that the figures are much higher among high-risk populations: 16 percent among sex workers, 19 percent among homosexuals and six percent among miners.

The UNAIDS official said efforts needed to be made to scale up and increase access to remote and high risk populations like miners, residents of the hinterland and as well as youths to avoid new infections in the future.