Building Human Capacity and Spreading Prevention Messages in Guyana
Partners: Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), Guyana Lotto Company, Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T)
Since 1987, when the first HIV case was reported, there has been a progressive increase in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Guyana. Today, Guyana has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the Latin America and Caribbean region. HIV/AIDS has become the number one cause of death in Guyana among people ages 25 to 44, the most economically active segment of the population.
The private sector in Guyana was mobilized to promote prevention, diminish stigma, and improve the livelihood of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). HIV prevention and awareness for employees was promoted through training and the development of workplace policies. Two programs for PLWHA-- a micro-credit project and skills building initiative--were launched with private sector support.
The micro-credit project was supported by three organizations: an NGO specializing in micro-financing provided small loans and training in small business management; a communications company funded salary and other administrative costs; and a financial institution provided the collateral to guarantee the loans. NGOs and treatment sites are sensitized to the program, promote the funding opportunity, and refer PLWHA and their families to the dedicated officer at the micro-credit institution. This officer is also responsible for mentoring and following up the loan awardees during and after the loan to increase the likelihood of the enterprise's success and sustainability. To date, over 58 loans have been successfully implemented.
The skills-building initiative was conducted by a business that specializes in manufacturing high-end crafts and furniture. Participants were then provided with loans for their own businesses or offered permanent employment or an opportunity to supply businesses with products.
Within a one-year period, 16 companies in Guyana had developed HIV/AIDS policies and trained focal persons to coordinate their activities. Approximately 2,800 persons have been directly reached with prevention messages through small group sessions and peer education. Condoms are now accessible to all employees, and counseling and testing services have been accessed by 547 employees through a mobile service. The people who were trained have demonstrated increases in self-esteem and income. In addition, the private sector agencies have organized themselves into a business coalition to develop sustainable programs to support HIV prevention and mitigation.