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Seweyo medical centre refurbished for gdf hiv/aids programme

‘80.6 per cent of soldiers in the Army have been tested and know their status’
- Mrs. Beverly Gomes-Lovell
By Michel Outridge

The refurbished Medical Centre/VCT site at Base Camp Seweyo. (Sonell Nelson Photo)A REFURBISHED Medical Centre/Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) site, at Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Base Camp Seweyo, along Soesdyke/Linden Highway, was yesterday handed over to the GDF HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme.

The facility was declared open by Programme Manager, GDF HIV/AIDS Prevention, Mrs. Beverly Gomes-Lovell, who said 80.6 per cent of soldiers in the Army have been tested and know their status.

She said there are presently four VCT sites at different military base camps and the intention is to establish three more and maintain a rigid sensitisation campaign to educate soldiers.

Gomes-Lovell said almost every soldier is aware of the HIV/AIDS programme within the GDF because it is incorporated in their training.

According to her, it costs some $200,000 to refurbish the medical centre at Seweyo where trained personnel do testing and counselling at any given time.

She said the GDF HIV/AIDS Programme started three years ago and targets all soldiers.

United States Military Liaison Office representative, Lieutenant Colonel Melba Hernandez, who was present at the ceremony, noted that testing allows people to know their HIV/AIDS status and also causes adjustments to their sexual lifestyles.

She told the gathering it is important to be tested and encouraged the soldiers to make use of the services offered and not be judgemental.

Programme Manager, GDF HIV/AIDS Prevention, Mrs. Beverly Gomes-Lovell (left) assists with the cutting of the ribbon to symbolise the opening yesterday.GDF Lieutenant Colonel Enoch Gaskin, who spoke on behalf of absent Chief-of-Staff Commodore Gary Best, pointed out that, as Commander of the Second Infantry Reserve Battalion at Seweyo, he is geared to lead by example.

Consequently, he was the first to be tested yesterday after the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon.

Gaskin said it is sensible for an army to adopt a responsible front on HIV/AIDS and educate its soldiers.

He said he saw a change in the behaviour of soldiers with their demand for condoms and pledged that the GDF remains committed to the in-house HIV/AIDS programme.

Dr Shanti Singh of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), sent her regrets at not being able to attend the function.