Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
PEPFAR Joint Press Conference with Minister of Health
May 14, 2021
Honorable Minister Anthony, distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen,
Good day everyone, I am pleased to be with you here today. The U.S. Government is proud of our long-standing partnership with Guyana to combat HIV, and this treatment center is a symbol of that partnership.
Since 2004, via the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – or PEPFAR, has provided more than $185 million to support HIV prevention, testing, care, and treatment services in Guyana. It has been a remarkable partnership – and one that saves lives.
And so, we are thrilled to be able to provide an additional $1.5 million to support the fight against HIV in Guyana. This funding will support the Ministry of Health and civil society partners through September 2022. It is especially timely given COVID-19 and the strain it continues to place on the country’s health system.
In recent years, Guyana has made significant strides in its fight against HIV. Notably, more than 90 percent of people living with HIV in Guyana know their status. This is critical knowledge, as it allows individuals to be connected with life-saving HIV treatment. With treatment, individuals’ health can be sustained, and the levels of virus can be reduced so low that the virus cannot be transmitted to others.
However, of every four individuals diagnosed, only three are on treatment. This is not enough – and lives are at stake. Therefore, our priority must be to increase treatment coverage, aiming to ensure that everyone diagnosed with HIV is immediately linked to life-saving treatment services. We believe strongly that services must be client-centered, meeting individuals where they are, with what they need. Our PEPFAR support will help strengthen this, including for the most vulnerable.
Guyana has been a regional leader in using global best practices and policies to guide its HIV response. The recent adoption of a national HIV self-testing strategy is a welcome move, as it will allow individuals another option to learn their status and enable safe, effective testing in the privacy of one’s home. This is especially needed during COVID-19, so we’re thrilled to see this important advancement.
I want to commend all partners – the Ministry, civil society, faith-based organizations, private clinicians – for their exceptional efforts during difficult times. Many, including here at the National Care and Treatment Center, have been pulling double duty for more than a year to respond to the dual pandemics of HIV and COVID-19. We value your commitment, your resilience, and your adaptability. Thank you so very much.
And Minister Anthony, I want to thank you for the strong collaboration across a number of health priorities. You have been a tireless advocate in the fight against HIV, and I know that together, we can see Guyana across the finish line to epidemic control.