Guyana Red Cross to include sex workers in HIV focusSaturday, September 13, 2008 – 12:24 pm
Source: Stabroek News
The Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS) is increasing its HIV focus to include commercial sex workers among other vulnerable groups in an effort to scale-up its current work in the field.
By 2010 the GRCS hopes to double the amount of HIV/AIDS work it is now involved in following a call by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for its HIV Global Alliance to “Rise to the challenge’.
The Red Cross announced a range of programmes on Thursday to be executed within the coming year as part of the plan to ‘do more at home’, including rolling out a number of services across the regions.
The society is also seeking funding to assist in its efforts.
Dorothy Fraser, Secretary General of Red Cross, emphasized that it is critical to increase HIV/AIDS efforts given the impact it has on the society. She said that Red Cross had initiated several programmes which are continuing and a few of these will be expanded.
The proposed plan covers four broad areas – preventing HIV infection; expanding HIV treatment, support and care; reducing HIV stigma and discrimination and strengthening capacity to deliver and sustain scaled-up programmes.
Among the initiatives are establishing a referral system to Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) sites and training staff and volunteers in referral protocols; increasing the number of participants who attend the ‘Healthy Pregnancy’ course and using this as a forum to disseminate materials on Prevention-of-Mother-To-Child (PMTCT); scaling up the Together We Can (TWC) programme in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, and conducting sessions on puberty and sexual reproductive health.
HIV treatment, care and support is among the organisation’s current programmes in addition to its FACES campaign that was launched in 2007 and implemented in three hinterland regions with some measure of success. And the Red Cross intends to intensify some of the campaigns.
Condom use is one area the society identified as a critical, noting that female condoms in particular are difficult to access in many areas. The Red Cross said it would welcome any kind of assistance in this area.
Further, the Red Cross said it intends to strengthen its work in assisting children and orphans made vulnerable by HIV through its care and support programme and wellness clinics in addition to providing food support for persons living with and affected by HIV.
The Global Alliance was initiated back in 2006 with the aim of scaling up countrywide efforts in reducing vulnerability to HIV and its impact.