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More sensitization needed to ensure PrEP reaches vulnerable populations

The National AIDS Programme Secretariat has indicated plans to increase awareness campaigns for PrEP after the service has been left under-utilised.

Since 2015, the World Health Organization has recommended that “people at substantial risk of HIV infection” should be offered PrEP.

Several countries have prioritised key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers and transgender people, for PrEP programming. In Guyana, stats up to 2021 showed those groups also have higher HIV prevalence: 8% for transgender women, 6% for sex workers and 5% for gay men and other men who have sex with men.

Guyana’s HIV programme results remain among the best in the Caribbean.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV/AIDS was introduced in Guyana since 2020.

Currently it is being under-utilized in the general populace. This is mainly due to a lack of awareness, especially within vulnerable communities.

Anil Persaud, Managing Director at LGBTQ organisation EQUAL Guyana, is urging the government to implement a more widespread sensitisation campaign to tackle this issue.

“It’s been very narrow on the onset and targeting very specific groups and only sharing ïnformation there but I think we should make it a national thing and make it as inclusive and widespread as possible…”

“It’s not just for the LGBTQ community, PrEP is used globally by all communities, all genders, all sexual orientations as a means of preventing the contraction of HIV/AIDS”

Head of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat Dr Tariq Jagnarine says there is some hesitancy keeping persons from taking advantage of the service,

Dr Jagnarine indicated that efforts are underway to increase awareness campaigns about PrEP soon.

“We have about 60+ persons using PrEP continuously.”

“We offer both continuous and event driven. Continuous in the sense that you can be on it all the time throughout the year and event driven based on any specific carnival or any sort of event coming up; you can start taking PrEP to prepare you for that time period.”

“More can be done, we have to do more campaigning. We need the help of our CSOs and NGOs and our communities out there to keep informing people.”


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