GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Guyana is the first Caribbean and Latin America country to implement HIV drug resistance monitoring.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy made the disclosure and indicated that, from an investment of zero dollars in 1989, Guyana’s investment in the fight against HIV/AIDS has mounted to more than $2 billion on an annual basis. However, the minister said that it was no fault of those in authority at the time.
Dr. Ramsammy said that in 1989, the majority of countries in the region and around the world did not see the need to invest in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“In 1989 we invested the grand sum of zero dollars in the fight of HIV because then Guyana did not see HIV as a public health threat, at least not in our setting. This is not a criticism of those who were in authority,” he said.
According to Ramsammy, it was only in 1987 that then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan made his first statement on HIV.
The minister said that governments around the world were not attuned to the HIV pandemic, which was emerging even in 1989. Ramsammy noted that this is one area, where non-governmental organizations and people living with the disease were able to make a significant difference and were able to propel some level of change in this regard.
He revealed that in 1989, about US$200 million per year was expected among developing countries, an amount which had increased slightly to $250 million per year in 1996. However, by last year this sum had increased to $10 billion per year.
The findings of the HIV/AIDS program sustainability analysis tool, which was funded by USAID, has achieved universal access in many of the key HIV issues, including antiretroviral treatment prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, treatment support for orphans and vulnerable children, blood screening, HIV/tuberculosis treatment, as well as comprehensive care and support for people living with HIV.