Remarks by Ambassador Lynch at the World AIDS Day 2022 HIV/STI Conference

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
World AIDS Day 2022 HIV/STI Conference 
December 4, 2022

Honorable Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health
Dr. Tariq Jagnarine, Program Manager, National AIDS Program Secretariat
Dr. Luis Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.  As we recently marked World AIDS Day – the 34th since its inception in 1988 – I am pleased to be able to join you at this very important and timely event.

We are at a pivotal moment in the global HIV/AIDS response. In 2003, when the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was established, there were over 1.8 million new HIV infections every year. In 2020, in large part because of PEPFAR, new HIV infections per year had decreased by half and AIDS-related deaths had been cut by 64 percent. However, the job is not finished. Persistent gaps in HIV prevention and treatment services remain and staying on top of the science to drive effective prevention and treatment, particularly in priority populations, is vital. So I applaud Guyana’s on-going leadership in the HIV response.

The U.S. Government is proud of our long-standing partnership with Guyana in a number of areas through USAID dating back to 1961; and specifically to combat HIV. Since 2004, through PEPFAR, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has supported Guyana Ministry of Health’s HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts. To date, U.S. Government has provided more than $189 million to support HIV prevention, testing, care, and treatment services in the country through PEPFAR. It has been a remarkable partnership – and one that saves lives. PEPFAR’s investment in laboratory system strengthening included construction of the National Public Health Reference Laboratory in 2008 through CDC. The facility conducts HIV and related testing to diagnose and monitor patients on treatment, while supporting diagnostic capacity for other diseases.

The U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is, “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV,” reflecting our enduring bipartisan commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic globally through an approach that centers on disproportionately affected communities.  The theme highlights the importance of ensuring equitable access to quality, people-centered HIV prevention and treatment services, and that the diverse voices of all affected ages, genders, and population groups are heard and valued.

In recent years, Guyana has made significant strides in the fight against HIV. Notably, more than 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status. This is critical knowledge, as it allows individuals to be initiated on life-saving HIV treatment. With treatment, individuals’ health can be sustained and the levels of virus can be reduced to an undetectable level, preventing transmission to others. However, of every four individuals diagnosed, only three are on treatment. CDC and USAID have worked with vulnerable populations and community and faith-based organizations in Guyana to help more people reduce their risks, initiate treatment, and remain on treatment to achieve viral suppression. PEPFAR support has led to the development and implementation of protocols, guidelines, SOPs and manuals aimed at providing quality HIV services and strengthening the supportive environment for key and vulnerable persons in Guyana. To ensure sustainability of programs, we have worked with the Ministry of Health to support training of health workers and to strengthen the supply chain to ensure life-saving treatment is available.

And our partnership extends beyond the country’s borders. The Caribbean Region ranks among the top 8 areas in the world with the highest number of new HIV infections. Recognizing the importance of robust policy, technical guidance, and coordination at a regional level, USAID began supporting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and The Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) in 2002.  PANCAP, which is a regional partnership of governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), bilateral and multilateral agencies, and donors, provides a unified approach to the Caribbean’s HIV response.

The U.S. government is committed to working with governments and communities to eliminate barriers to quality HIV services, including stigma and discrimination. Health workers are central to providing client-centered services and meeting the needs of all HIV priority populations. For nearly twenty years, the U.S. government has been at the forefront of advancing human resources for health and has made significant investments to strengthen the global health workforce.

Your work here today will ensure that people of all ages, genders, and population groups have equitable access to life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services based on the most up-to-date science.

Thank you.