Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony announced on Sunday that the Ministry of Health will procure a viral load tester for persons to be virally suppressed by the HIV/AIDS virus. Dr. Anthony made his remarks at the first-ever National HIV/STI Conference held on Sunday.
Dr. Anthony explained that the machine will arrive in Guyana early next year. He said that once installed, persons living with the virus can access much-needed testing for viral load. Viral load can lead to persons with the virus eventually becoming undetected.
“I am sure that once we start using viral load, the numbers that we have can go up significantly. I think the estimates say that we have about 89% of the people who are on treatment virally suppressed but we can’t demonstrate that,” Dr. Anthony said.
Minister Anthony expounded that just like the rest of the world, Guyana is aiming to eradicate the existence of the virus by implementing several other mechanisms to prevent the spread of the disease which has killed millions globally.
Among the measures being advanced is the introduction of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which will reduce the risk of infection in persons who have been exposed to the deadly virus.
Dr. Anthony noted that the health ministry will also re-enforce sexual education in the school system, while encouraging more persons to get tested for the disease.
UNAIDS has set a target for countries for achieving the full eradication of the virus by 2025. UNAIDS outlines that by 2025 95% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 95% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 95% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
At the moment, Guyana has scored 94 points for persons who know their status and 76 for persons in care. But for persons who are virally suppressed, Guyana only scored 28 points.
If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine reduces the amount of HIV in the body (viral load) to a very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness.
This is called viral suppression—defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. Viral suppression helps to keep persons with the virus healthy and prevents transmission.