(Press release) Tuesday, 21 June 2022 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, will facilitate a South-South knowledge exchange event in Georgetown, Guyana from 27-29 June 2022 in collaboration with Ministry of Health-Guyana, and the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS). The knowledge exchange is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and will focus on Guyana’s experience implementing Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV self-testing (HIVST).
The countries participating in the learning exchange event are Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Eight (8) persons from the four (4) countries will participate, including National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Clinical Care Coordinators, HIV clinicians and civil society organisation (CSO) representatives who work closely with the national programme in the implementation of PrEP, HIVST and other aspects of the HIV response.
Participants will interact with representatives of the Ministry of Health, clinical, CSO representatives and beneficiaries of the Guyana HIV programme.
According to Dr. Shanti Singh-Anthony, Coordinator, Knowledge Management, PANCAP, “participants will experience firsthand how the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Programme has coordinated and collaborated with CSOs, the private sector, and other stakeholders in delivering comprehensive HIV services in the community and to key populations (KPs), including implementing a PrEP programme and HIVST.
She also explained that site visits would be conducted to public, private and community clinics, where participants would have the opportunity to interact with clinic staff. “This will allow participants to understand how the PrEP service delivery and HIVST are organised and delivered, the number and skill set of the clinical team, and other resources available for supporting service delivery,” stated Dr. Singh-Anthony.
In addition, participants will interact with the beneficiaries of the clinics, particularly KPs. There will also be opportunities for participants to accompany the NAP and CSO teams to community outreaches to identify and recruit KPs for HIV prevention, HIVST and PrEP.
Dr Singh-Anthony explained that Guyana was selected because of the progress made by the NAPS in PrEP and HIVST implementation and the wealth of experience to be shared with the Region. Guyana is one of the first countries in the Region to have achieved the First 90. At the end of 2020, 94% of People Living with HIV knew their HIV status. Guyana has also made significant progress in delivering PrEP to KPs; the NAPS has developed PrEP guidelines, trained clinicians, and developed systems. PrEP is available at fifteen (15) public, private and CSO locations.
HIVST is in the pilot phase, and Guyana’s testing algorithm was validated. HIVST kits can be accessed from four (4) public, private and CSO locations. In addition, the NAPS has plans to scale up and make more sites accessible.
The South-South knowledge exchange is part of PANCAP’s overarching strategy to enhance the skills of National AIDS programme technical teams and CSO representatives in implementing PrEP and HIVST.