Deputy Chief of Mission Participates in World AIDS Day Awareness Walk

Deputy Chief of Mission, Terry Steers-Gonzalez speaking at the World AIDS Day Awareness Walk

Honorable Minister Lawrence, Dr. Moore, Dr. Odiit, cultural program participants, diplomatic colleagues.

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to share a few words, as together we recognize World AIDS Day.  I understand today is the 30th annual World Aids Day.  Thirty years of noteworthy achievements, but much work remains to be done to end the HIV epidemic.

Today in Guyana, there are approximately 8,200 persons living with HIV.  The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) works collaboratively with the Ministry of Public Health, civil society organizations and development partners, including the Global Fund, UNAIDS and PAHO to support the response.  This year is a special one for PEPFAR, as we are marking 15 years since then-President Bush signed into law the legislation authorizing this groundbreaking program.  Since PEPFAR began, the investments that we have jointly made in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic have seen the establishment of a National Reference Laboratory that is important to the control of all diseases.

UNAIDS has a “90-90-90 goal,” meaning we’re aiming for 90 percent of those infected with HIV to know their status, 90 percent of those diagnosed to be on ant retro-viral treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment to achieve viral suppression.  Although major strides have been made, we aren’t there yet, and we cannot become complacent.  According to the UNAIDS 2018 report for Guyana, only 68 percent of Guyanese know their status.  Of those persons, 84 percent are on treatment and of those, 82 percent have achieved viral suppression.  Although we can be proud of the achievements in treatment coverage and viral suppression, over 2,600 persons have not been diagnosed.

Finally, on behalf of the U.S. Government, I want to honor all of you who work tirelessly to address health in general, and HIV in particular.  I also want to honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS, those who are living with HIV and AIDS and face stigma and discrimination every single day.  I recognize and honor the caregivers, families, and friends who support people living with HIV and AIDS.

In wrapping up, I’d like to take a moment to envision Guyana, and the entire world – with no more HIV/AIDS.  This is a world within our reach if we continue to act.

Thank you.