Guyana Takes Multisector Approach to AIDS

Because AIDS is a political, socioeconomic, and human rights issue as well as a health problem, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has been helping the Government of Guyana bring the resources of all its sectors to bear on the epidemic. By incorporating AIDS activities into all Guyana’s governmental ministries—by beginning with eight—resources are being mobilized and many different kinds of leaders are working together to fight HIV & AIDS.

Because they recognize that keeping employees, students, teachers, farmers—in fact, all people—healthy makes the nation more productive, Guyana’s government ministries are working together to tackle AIDS. For example, the Ministry of Labor works closely with the International Labor Organization to develop workplace AIDS policies and legislation. The Ministry of Education, which employs nearly 10,000 teachers, is working to keep those employees and their students healthy. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, which oversees administration of local education, health, and public services such as sanitation, is interested in controlling costs (and minimizing the need to hire and train additional workers) by keeping workers healthy.

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security cares for the poorest populations in Guyana, which are most vulnerable to and hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs is addressing issues such as alcohol abuse and migration of civil servants, loggers, and miners—and the often-related increases in sex trafficking and commercial sex—that put many Amerindians at increased risk of HIV infection.

“The mistake we make is that we’ve been putting things in silos. And yet if you look at HIV, it’s the same thing that we must do for other sexually transmitted infections. It’s the same thing we must do in terms of preventing early pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy. We need to teach people positive lifestyles.”
Guyana’s Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
[Posters in this polyclinic put messages about HIV right next to messages about nutrition and dental health to promote all-around “positive lifestyles” in Guyana. Photo by MSH staff.]Posters in this polyclinic put messages about HIV right next to messages about nutrition and dental health to promote all-around “positive lifestyles” in Guyana. Photo by MSH staff.

In the more than two decades since the disease was first detected in Guyana, the HIV prevalence rate among adults (ages 15–49) has reached about 2.5 percent—one of the highest in the Caribbean. The Guyana HIV & AIDS Reduction and Prevention (GHARP) Project—a joint effort of the governments of Guyana and the United States, with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—is a response to Guyana’s AIDS crisis.

Under GHARP, multiple sectors of society are engaged to promote a comprehensive HIV prevention and care program. GHARP has worked to improve health infrastructure and build the skills of health workers. Areas of work include the following:

  • Voluntary counseling and testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
  • Support to orphans and other vulnerable children
  • Workplace prevention and care initiatives
  • Capacity-building of local nongovernmental organizations
  • Targeted interventions for the people who are most at risk

To read more about MSH’s work in Guyana, please go to:


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