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Gdf hiv/aids programme expands outreaches

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Beverly Gomes-Lovell
The medical laboratory at the Guyana Defence Force Ayanganna base has proven to be very instrumental in the fight against the dreaded HIV/AIDS virus, according to HIV/AIDS Field Project Manager Beverly Gomes-Lovell.
Mrs Gomes-Lovell, during an interview with this newspaper, recently disclosed that since its implementation, the laboratory has served to address a number of health issues with a view to ensuring that military personnel are in good health.
The laboratory, she explained, has added to the capacity of the force to incorporate a wider scope of testing capabilities, thus a variety of tests and services are offered to military ranks and civil workers.
And, according to Captain Greasels Hinckson, officer in charge of the Medical Corps, at the moment the laboratory is staffed with one technologist, two laboratory assistants and two phlebotomists, all of whom are military ranks.
Captain Hinckson disclosed that, in order to better their operations within the laboratory, two of the existing staffers have been enrolled into relevant training programmes. Mrs Gomes-Lovell said that several training ventures are ongoing with military Medexes, nurses and doctors, even as ongoing drives with peer educators are increasing in order to reach ranks at all of the GDF bases.
“We are having these ongoing drives on a daily basis, and we continually do training and educational outreaches…We are never relaxing, because we want our people to stay healthy. There are so many people out there who still do not have a clue and do not understand this deadly epidemic called HIV/AIDS.”
The GDF HIV/AIDS programme is sponsored mainly by the United States Military through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme; and according to Gomes-Lovell, since its inception in the year 2006, it has been making a positive impact within the local military.
The GDF, she explained, has been working closely with the US Military Liaison Office at the United States Embassy, which also provides technical support.
Just last week, the US Government donated a 15-seater Hiace minibus to the military programme to boost the programme’s efforts.
According to Gomes-Lovell, the implementation of the programme brought with it the expectation that the army would be better able to address the medical needs of its officers and, by extension, heighten HIV/AIDS awareness — an achievement which is already being realised.
She pointed out that the efforts of the programme will be further expanded through outreach programmes targeting military ranks stationed at the various border locations.
“We don’t want to lose our people, so the more we do outreaches and the more we have educational programmes, we know that we will be able to reach a whole lot of them…”
In addition to receiving support from the US Government and some non-governmental organisations, the military HIV/AIDS programme is also supported by the Ministry of Health through the National AIDS programme Secretariat.