By: Necus M. Andrews
The Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV (LibNeP+) has for the first time embarked on a peer to peer campaign targeting 120 recipients of care for viral load testing. The campaign is intended to intensify awareness on the importance of HIV Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), for recipients of care in the country.
U=U is a global campaign led by the Prevention Access Campaign to spread awareness about the fact that persons living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, the amount of HIV in the blood by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) daily as prescribed, cannot transmit the virus to others.
In recent years, an overwhelming body of clinical evidence has established the HIV Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U, concept as scientifically sound, making treatment for HIV as a powerful arrow in the quiver of HIV prevention tools.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign Tuesday, July 14, 2021 in Paynesville, the President of the Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV, Wokie Cole said the campaign is aimed at buttressing Liberia’s effort to achieving the 95-95-95 global target to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Madam Cole encouraged the 120 recipients of who had gathered to participate in the viral load testing to always adhere and remain committed to taking their medication.
According to Madam Cole, this is the only passible way to ensure a suppressed viral load, which will eventually allow an individual to reach the Undetectable=Untransmittable level.
She said LibNeP+ in partnership with the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) with support from FHI360 under its EpiC Project, is committed to ensuring that the country’s effort of catching up with other countries to achieve the 95-95-95 goal.
The LibNeP+ President clarified that although U=U approach is not a cure for HIV, it has made the virus a manageable health condition.
“We are very happy that LibNeP+ as an organization is launching the U=U campaign to encourage recipients of care in Liberia to prioritize the sustained treatment for HIV to ensure healthy lives,” madam Cole said.
Madam Cole: “The only secret for living healthy lives and gaining the U=U status as recipients of care is treatment adherence. We are thankful to FHI360 under the EpiC project for its support which places strong emphasis on the U=U. We are also grateful for the sustained partnership support being received from the National AIDS and STIs Control Program. This, we believe is the way to go in giving HIV a human face and reducing stigma and discrimination.”
“We must know that any time stop medication, we know that viral load will rebound. This is not what we want because it will pose more risk to your health. The medication is available in country, please make use and let’s make U=U history,” Madam Cole urged the recipients of care in Liberia.
Madam Berline Gibson, PMTCT Officer at the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) expressed the NACP’s continuous commitment in partnering with LibNeP+ in making U=U a priority through sustained viral load testing.
Madam Gibson told the recipients of care that antiretroviral treatment has changed HIV infection from a fatal illness to a manageable chronic condition.
“U=U is a way to go, but I urged you to ensure regular treatment adherence. Before your viral load is suppressed to an undetectable and untransmissible level, you will need to be committed in your medication,” Madam Gibson said.
According to Madam Gibson, “staying on treatment is essential for keeping HIV under control. Let’s keep this campaign alive because it is the only way to ending AIDS.
The Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV (LibNeP+) is a PLHIV network that brings together PLHIV organization to consolidate community based response to HIV and AIDS.
Founded in 2011, LibNeP+ mission is to build a positive future for persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS through networking in the national response, leadership in advocacy, prevention strategies, education and policy to minimize the adverse personal and social effects of HIV and AIDS.
Madam Kemah Massaquoi, one of the recipients of the care thanked LibNeP+ and partners for placing key emphasis viral load testing Liberia which must be embraced.
Madam Massaquoi said if Liberia should make progress in preventing new HIV infections and ensuring healthy lives for those already living with the virus, maintaining a sustained U=U is a possible way
Some recipients of care turning out for viral load testing