People Living with HIV urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health, Guyana, urges Persons Living with HIV to protect themselves against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.

During the COVID-19 update on Monday, Minister Anthony noted that this is important because the immune system of a Person Living with HIV is more susceptible to the virus, especially if that person is not on medication.

“It is recommended that persons with HIV take the COVID-19 vaccine because it’s going to protect them. The benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risk of being vaccinated. In some cases, persons whose immune systems are compromised, some of those patients it’s also recommended that they get a third dose of the vaccine or a booster shot,” Dr Anthony said.

He said persons could use any of the vaccines available in Guyana, which are being used for the adult population. These include the Johnson and Johnson, Sputnik V, Sinopharm, or Astra Zeneca.

The minister noted that persons currently taking ARVs (antiretrovirals) or PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) should not worry about adverse effects of the vaccine, as these work differently in the body.

“The mechanism of action are totally different; vaccines help to stimulate the immune system so that your body can produce antibodies that can fight off COVID-19 virus. Antiretrovirals -they work differently, they interrupt the life cycle of the HIV and therefore their actions are totally different, and there is no interaction between the two,” Dr Anthony explained.

Persons with HIV are advised to follow the recommended protocols as the general population to guard against contracting the disease. These include wearing masks, proper hand sanitisation and social distancing.

“There are lots of hesitancy among the HIV population, they probably have various myths about why they shouldn’t be vaccinated, but all the evidence is pointing that they need to be vaccinated,” the minister said.

Up to 2019, the estimated number of People Living with HIV in Guyana numbered over eight thousand.

Meanwhile, for COVID-19 infections, the health ministry reports some 3,907 active cases, with 59 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours. The data also shows a slight decrease of cases in Region Four, with increases in Regions Two, Three and Ten.

There are 107 persons in hospitals across the country, with 72 of those persons currently at the Ocean View Hospital, 24 of which are in the ICU. Six are maternal cases.

Also, so far, 373,398 persons have been vaccinated with the first dose of a covid vaccine, representing 72.8 per cent of the adult population, while 231,729 persons have been fully vaccinated, amounting to 45.2 per cent of the adult population.

For the adolescent population, 26,391 children have taken the first dose Pfizer vaccine, amounting to 36.2 per cent of that population, while 17,379 are fully vaccinated, representing 2.5 per cent of the adolescent population.

World AIDS Day 2021: End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.

This World AIDS Day, the Region will be highlighting the urgent need to end the inequalities that drive AIDS and other pandemics around the world.

Without bold action against inequalities, the world risks a resurgence of HIV, as well as a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a spiralling social and economic crisis.

Forty years since the first AIDS cases were reported, HIV still threatens the world. Today, the world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030 and is even risking a resurgence, not because of a lack of knowledge or tools to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions to HIV prevention and treatment.

Economic, social, cultural and legal inequalities must be ended as a matter of urgency if we are to end AIDS by 2030.

Although there is a perception that a time of crisis is not the right time to prioritize tackling the underlying social injustices, it is clear that without doing so, the crisis cannot be overcome.

Tackling inequalities is a long-standing global promise, the urgency of which has only increased. In 2015, all countries pledged to reduce inequalities within and between countries as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS and the Political Declaration on AIDS adopted at the 2021 United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS have ending inequalities at their core.

As well as being central to ending AIDS, tackling inequalities will advance the human rights of key populations and people who are living with HIV, make societies better prepared to beat COVID-19 and other pandemics and support economic recovery and stability. Fulfilling the promise to tackle inequalities will save millions of lives and will benefit society as a whole.

But ending inequalities requires transformative change. Political, economic and social policies need to protect the rights of everyone and pay attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

We know how to beat AIDS, we know what the inequalities obstructing progress are, and we know how to tackle them. The policies to address inequalities can be implemented, but they require leaders to be bold.

Governments must now move from commitment to action. Governments must promote inclusive social and economic growth. They must eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities. It is time for governments to keep their promises. They must act now, and we must make them accountable.

This World AIDS Day, let’s remind our governments that global inequalities affect us all, no matter who we are or where we are located. This World AIDS Day, let’s demand action to end inequalities and AIDS and all other pandemics that thrive on inequalities.

Region’s Public Health boosted by PANCAP Capacity-Building Initiative

Thursday, 7 October 2021 (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, congratulates the eighteen (18) clinical and public health practitioners who completed the three-month course on the Clinical Management of HIV with the Global Health E-Learning Program (eDGH), University of Washington.

The PANCAP-USAID Project supported the capacity building initiative via USAID Jamaica.

A certificate award ceremony was held on Friday, 1 October, at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Georgetown.

The CARICOM Secretariat, PANCAP and USAID were praised by Hon. Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health, Guyana, during his feature address.  He underscored the importance of using the PANCAP initiative as an example of continuing programme implementation to end AIDS despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Dr Anthony expressed gratitude to the U.S. Government and USAID for providing support for the initiative and highlighted the value of the course in improving the skills of the Public Health Practitioners and the overall enhancement the achievement will deliver to the Region’s public health.

The Minister of Health further praised the content of the course and stated that the inclusion of modules on Hepatitis B and C aligned with the Ministry of Health’s upcoming capacity building on the treatment of Hepatitis C.

Importantly, Dr Anthony highlighted that vaccination numbers for eligible People Living with HIV (PLHIV) were low.  He attributed this to misinformation within the PLHIV community regarding the safety of the vaccines.  He challenged the 18 certificate recipients to encourage PLHIV to get vaccinated by presenting facts on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, delivered congratulations on behalf of Dr Carla Barnett, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He echoed the sentiments of Dr Anthony and praised the initiative for prioritising knowledge sharing and learning among Public Health Practitioners despite the challenges of COVID-19.

“HIV and COVID-19 have taught us many lessons; pivotal to combating both is providing consistent opportunities for learning and capacity building for our front-line workers, doctors, nurses, and other public health workers”, stated Dr Slater,  “PANCAP, with the support of the U.S. Government, USAID and through collaboration with the Ministry of Health, has taken a positive step towards this”.

“I was pleased that the course content contained modules critical for new thinking and innovative approaches for managing and treating HIV in the Region.  These included topics focused on opportunistic infections, “Management of Sexually Transmitted Infections in HIV-infected Patients”, “HIV Vertical Transmission and Pregnancy”, “Post-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV and Preventive Care”, and “Pediatric HIV”, stated Dr Slater, “These areas are critical to creating a practical roadmap for ending AIDS in our Region”.

Dr Slater concluded by commending the PANCAP Knowledge Management hub for identifying and leveraging the Global Health E-Learning Program at the University of Washington.  He also encouraged PANCAP to share the success story with the Region as many Public Health institutions continue to search for strategies and approaches for virtual learning.  “Let this be a shining beacon of the progress the Region can achieve when we strategically collaborate and take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities of the virtual world”, stated Dr Slater.

Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, United States Ambassador to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, stated that the USAID Jamaica Office was proud to sponsor the initiative and praised the collaboration between USAID, CARICOM, and the Ministry of Health.  She highlighted the importance of knowledge sharing and capacity building to the development of Guyana’s health sector. She emphasised that the U.S. Government was pleased to be part of the process.

The Ambassador stated that the commitment by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to combat HIV is evidenced by the more than 185 Million United States Dollars provided in funding to Guyana since 2004.  She also highlighted that the partnership has resulted in significant strides in HIV prevention, treatment and care in Guyana.  The Ambassador was pleased to share that the PEPFAR programme received a two-year extension through the hard work of USAID and the Ministry of Health to help Guyana further its accomplishments in ending AIDS.

Ambassador Lynch concluded by congratulating the certificate recipients for having the vision of ending AIDS and stated that the U. S. Government remains committed to working with the Ministry of Health, CARICOM and the private sector to help this become a reality in Guyana.

Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP, reiterated PANCAP’s commitment to building the capacity of Public Health Practitioners working in HIV prevention, treatment and care.  He stated that the initiative would be the first of many partnering with international universities to enhance the capacities of clinical and public health workers.

Additional highlights included testimonials from three (3) doctors who completed the course, including Dr Tariq Jagnarine, Programme Manager, National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Ministry of Health, Dr Mallika Mootoo, Paediatrician, Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital and Dr Abiola Jacobs, Director, National Care and Treatment Center.  They reflected on the value of the course to their work implementation.

Certificate recipients included medical practitioners, programme managers, public health practitioners, medex and nurses from the Ministry of Health, Guyana,  Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Davis Memorial Hospital and CARICOM-PANCAP.

The capacity building initiative formed part of PANCAP’s overarching strategy to protect and maintain the gains made in the HIV response as the Region continues to navigate COVID-19.

– ENDS –


Timothy Austin

Senior Project Officer, Communications

PANCAP Coordinating Unit

CARICOM Secretariat

Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana


Tel: (592) 222-0001-75, Ext. 3409  | Visit

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Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026, End Inequalities, End AIDS

Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS (CRSF) 2019-2025


PANCAP is a Caribbean regional partnership of governments, regional civil society organisations, regional institutions and organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and contributing donor partners which was established on 14 February 2001. PANCAP provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, coordinates the response through the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS to maximise efficient use of resources and increase impact, mobilises resources and build capacity of partners.


What are the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 targets and commitments?

If targets and commitments in the strategy are achieved:

  • The number of people who newly acquire HIV will decrease from 1.7 million in 2019 to less than 370 000 by 2025
  • The number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses will decrease from 690 000 in 2019 to less than 250 000 in 2025.
  • The goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children will see the number of new HIV infections drop from 150 000 in 2019 to less than 22 000 in 2025.

Image Gallery – Clinical Management of HIV – Certificate Award Ceremony

Director’s Message September – October 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse years of progress across many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the virus has impacted everyone, it affects the world’s poorest and the most vulnerable people the most. The SDGs related to HIV and AIDS speak to ending AIDS and other communicable diseases by 2030. This is further reflected in the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework on HIV (CRSF) 2019 – 2025 that serves as the guiding strategy for the Caribbean Region. However, actions to accelerate the CRSF have been significantly impacted by the disruptive nature of the pandemic. Health systems are struggling to mitigate the disruptions, which takes away the focus from the elimination agenda.

At the end of 2020, 82% of People Living with HIV in the region were diagnosed. Two thirds (67%) of all People living with HIV were on treatment, and 59% were virally suppressed. This highlights that there are still significant gaps to get to the 2030 agenda of ending AIDS in the Caribbean.

For us to get on track to end AIDS by 2030, Caribbean countries must step up the pace around prevention, testing, treatment, care and ending stigma and discrimination. This is going to necessitate a doubling up of efforts requiring us to ensure the continuity of services in a significantly disrupted environment while at the same time accelerating progress around the elimination goals.

Key Populations must be at the centre of the response to ensure that we strategize correctly to meet service delivery during the pandemic and respond to the elimination agenda. Key populations and their sexual partners accounted for more than 60% of new infections in 2020 and continue to be disproportionately affected by both the pandemic and the HIV epidemic.

Some strategies that must be adapted are decentralizing services to access points preferred by Key Populations to ensure uninterrupted access to HIV services and reducing contact with clinics. We would also need to scale up Multi-month Dispensing (MMD) and community refills of ART, PrEP and other medications. We will also need to maximize online service delivery options. However, while doing so, we must ensure that these services are assessable, affordable and Key Populations have the necessary infrastructure to access these services.

While the pandemic can be disruptive, it presents us with an opportunity to implement new strategies to mitigate its impact and ensure continuity of services. If these solutions are sustained beyond the pandemic, they may also modernize HIV and key population programming and position us towards the elimination agenda.

COVID-19 Behaviors Dashboard

The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs recently launched the COVID-19 Behaviors Dashboard. The digital tool highlights data from a global survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices around COVID-19, including vaccine acceptance.

A webinar to launch the Dashboard was held earlier this week. Click below for the webinar recording and presentation slides. A link to the Dashboard is also below.

National AIDS Commission (NAC) Belize Equips Civil Society Organisations with PPE

In September, Mr Enrique Romero, Executive Director, National AIDS Commission (NAC) Belize, presented personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically face shields, to members of civil society organizations (CSOs).

The donation was made possible through support from PANCAP’s COVID-19 (C19RM) grant, of which Belize is a beneficiary.

The beneficiaries included Belize Family Life Association – BFLA, “Our Circle”, United Belize Advocacy Movement – Unibam, Belize Trans Colors, Empower Yourself Belize Movement – EYBM, Belize Youth Empowerment For Change – BYEC and Helpage Belize.

Additional PPE for CSOs are forthcoming and will be presented at a later date.

COVID-19 Has Devastated HIV and TB Services According to New Global Fund Report

Washington, DC – New data released by the Global Fund today shows that COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the fight against AIDS and tuberculosis in 2020, and it makes clear the critically important role of emergency support provided by the U.S. as part of the American Rescue Plan.

For the first time in the history of the Global Fund, key programmatic results in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria have gone backwards, the annual results report showed. About one million fewer people with TB were treated in 2020 compared with 2019. For drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant TB, testing and treatment declined by a staggering 19% and 37%, respectively. Until COVID-19 arrived, TB killed more people globally than any other infectious disease and is now the second deadliest infectious disease in the world.

HIV continues to hit young women and girls the hardest. Every week, 5,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV in east and southern Africa. But in 2020, 11% fewer people were reached with HIV prevention programs and services. HIV tests declined by 22%. For HIV treatment, children have been left furthest behind, with only 54% getting the lifesaving HIV treatment they need.

Malaria programming fared better through the pandemic, but progress against the disease – which killed over 400,000 people in 2019 — has stalled.

Yet the impact of COVID-19 today would have been even worse without support from the United States and other countries, whose investments allowed the Global Fund to move with speed and scale to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria in 2020.

In 2021, the United States committed an additional $3.5 billion to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism as part of the American Rescue Plan. The COVID-19 Response Mechanism is helping to support innovations like delivering malaria bed nets door-to-door, dispensing multi-month supplies of TB and HIV drugs and using digital tools to monitor TB treatment.

For example, with the Global Fund’s support, in Nigeria, the National AIDS Council tested for both COVID-19 and HIV simultaneously, helping the country find more HIV-positive people. Most malaria campaigns quickly adapted to COVID-19, avoiding large disruptions, and the number of children protected through Seasonal Chemoprevention Campaigns has increased.

U.S. emergency funding has also made a direct and tangible impact on the COVID-19 response in low- and middle-income countries receiving Global Fund grants. The emergency U.S. funds are being used to shore up health systems, scale-up COVID-19 rapid testing and provide desperately needed therapeutics like oxygen. As of August 2021, $3.3 billion had been approved for 107 countries and 16 multi-country programs through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism and flexibilities within existing grants.

As the Delta variant tore through India earlier this year, the Global Fund was able to fast-track $75 million to the country to purchase oxygen concentrators and Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen plants. When Delta caused a surge of COVID-19 cases in Uganda, the Global Fund was able to support the country’s urgent order for additional PPE and COVID-19 tests. As of July 5, the Global Fund had delivered 2.5 million diagnostic tests to Uganda.

“I want to thank Congress for providing a significant infusion of COVID-19 funding to the Global Fund during a critical and terrifying time. The new data confirms that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact and also makes clear how crucial U.S. support continues to be,” said Chris Collins, president and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight. “Next year’s data will be even more shocking if we do not step up and increase investments in global health. The lives of millions of people are now on the line. With dangerous new COVID-19 variants wreaking havoc, particularly in low-income countries, the United States and its partners must do more to make sure that 20 years of progress against AIDS, TB and malaria won’t come undone.”

Dr Jeffrey L. Sturchio, Friends’ Board Chair and chairman at Rabin Martin, a global health strategy consulting firm, agreed.

“Let’s not forget that the Global Fund has been remarkably effective, saving 44 million lives since 2002. It has weathered the crisis of operating during a global pandemic, but it needs more resources. The world can’t afford to backslide any further on fighting AIDS, TB and malaria. Investments to end these epidemics will also help to strengthen health systems to meet the dual challenges of addressing COVID-19 and preparing for future pandemics.”

Belize to implement HIV Self-testing

The National AIDS Commission (NAC) Belize announced that the country is preparing to launch HIV Self Testing, an innovative service delivery model, during the new Global Fund grant cycle.
HIV self-testing is a process whereby a person collects saliva or pinprick blood specimen, performs a test, and receives the result privately. Evidence shows that self-testing is safe and accurate and increases testing uptake among people who may not test otherwise. It offers a way to make testing discreet, comfortable, and empowering.
Self-testing will also help ensure that HIV diagnosis does not decline during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a comprehensive strategy.

COVID-19 vaccines were not developed overnight “humanity was lucky” — Guyanese virologist at Pfizer

Principal Research Scientist at the United States drug maker Pfizer, Dr Vidia Roopchand, has sought to dispel concerns that COVID vaccines were developed overnight but said they date back to the fight against two other coronaviruses.

He said research in tackling Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the early 2000s and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 formed the basis for developing vaccines for COVID-19.

“A lot of people don’t realise this, but people have been working on coronaviruses for at least the last 20 years because the first SARS came out in 2001, so people have been working on a spike for SARS and other coronaviruses for a long time… so SARS and MERS allowed us, meaning the virology community,…to make all of these structural substitutions,” he said.

Speaking on a University of Guyana (UG)-organised webinar on the topic “SARS COV-2 (Covid-19) Viral Physiology and Vaccine Development”, he explained that coronaviruses, including many of the common cold viruses, have been infecting humans for a long time. They include the Human coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV-HKU1), which has been causing respiratory problems for many years.

“People have been studying coronaviruses for a while, but when SARS occurred, people started taking notice, and around that time, there was a revolution in structural biology,” he said, adding that the technology advanced in making images of crystals. He said after MERS came on the scene, scientists said coronaviruses were not as innocuous as they used to think, resulting in them being able to examine gene and protein sequences.

He said the evidence shows that the Pfizer jab is neutralising the Delta variant, even as he urged more people to be inoculated to reduce the chance of other variants. Dr Roopchand urged people to visit the United States Food and Drug Administration’s website to examine the data on the vaccine.

The Virologist said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine comprises an RNA sequence, lipids, some salt, sugars, and other constituents.

He said the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted Emergency Use Authorisation, based on the efficacy, even as trials continued. The FDA has since granted full authorisation for adults, while emergency authorisation continues for children from 12 years upwards. The US government recently donated 146,000 doses of the Pfizer jab for inoculating mainly adolescents as part of a “back-to-classroom” plan from September 6, 2021.

While there is a perception among some persons that scientists do not believe in God, he stressed that “I do believe in God and I think that something like this makes me believe in God even more because everything works and we were able to make this vaccine.”

The Principal Researcher at Pfizer said the efficacy of the polio vaccine lasts a lifetime because the entire virus had been used for that vaccine, but RNA was now being used for the first time in the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Persaud received his early education at the Methodist Primary on Wakenaam Island, Essequibo River and then the Anna Regina Multilateral School before going to the University of Guyana. He later obtained higher qualifications in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University.

PANCAP welcomes Ms Simone Jackson, PEPFAR Coordinator, Caribbean Regional Program, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy (S/GAC)

From the Desk of the Director, Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP):

Dear Partners,

Please join me in welcoming our new PEPFAR Coordinator, Ms Simone  Jackson, who is based at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Most recently, she served as Internal Political Unit Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil (2018-2021).  Simone will oversee the United States’ assistance to combat HIV and AIDS in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I anticipate engaging with Simone to strengthen the Region’s HIV response and plan the way forward as we continue to navigate COVID-19.  I wish her the best in her new leadership role to advance PEPFAR’s support and serve the region.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Rosmond Adams


Ms Simone Jackson, PEPFAR Coordinator, Caribbean Regional Program, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy (S/GAC)

Simone Jackson is the PEPFAR Coordinator for the Caribbean Regional Program based at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.

She joined the U.S. Department of State in 2003 and most recently served as Internal Political Unit Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil (2018-2021).  Previous overseas assignments include Management Section Chief in Luanda, Angola (2014-2015), Refugee and Humanitarian Affairs Officer in Islamabad, Pakistan (2011-2013), Deputy Economic Counselor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2010-2011), Economic Officer in Mexico City, Mexico (2006-2008), and Visa Section Chief in Sanaa, Yemen (2004-2006).

Simone has also served in Washington as the Senior Economic Officer in the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (2016-2018), Energy Officer for Turkey and the Caucuses in the Bureau of Energy Resources (2015-2016), and Program Officer in the Office of Refugee Admissions (2008-2010).

Simone is originally from Miami, Florida and holds a Bachelor’s in International Affairs and Economics from George Washington University.  She is married to a fellow Foreign Service Officer; they have two daughters and a son.