Persons who feel they are at a risk of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are being advised and encouraged to start using, Pre-exposure prophylaxis- a medicine used to prevent the contraction of HIV. This call was made by Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony who was speaking about Guyana’s HIV status on Guyana Dialogue.
HIV is a retrovirus which causes AIDS.
The concerns about the spread of HIV locally have been growing in recent weeks and it was reported last year that over 9,000 persons have been living with this virus in Guyana.
Though the practice of having safe sex is being encouraged, Minister Anthony said “if you believe you are vulnerable to HIV, we can give you treatment (the pre-exposure prophylaxis) upfront so that if you are exposed you would not contract HIV.”
This medication can be accessed at several hospitals and clinics countrywide and persons who receive this medication at a public institution will not be required to pay for it, as the Government has been providing HIV treatment free of cost.
Dr. Anthony has time and time again stressed the need for protected sex or abstinence, since these are ways one can protect themselves from contracting this virus. Thus far, the
Health Minister said persons have been stepping forward to access this medication and the ministry strongly believes that “through this programme we can prevent a lot of [persons being] infected.”
The Health Minister also made it known that HIV self-testing kits are available for individuals who want to conduct this test without a medical personnel. If a person then tests positive, they are being encouraged to approach a medical facility for treatment. With the treatment, this person would be able to keep the virus under control.