LIPRDE Urges Persons Living With HIV To Adhere To Treatment
By: Necus M. Andrews
The Liberia Initiative for the Promotion of Rights, Identity, Diversity, and Equality (LIPRIDE), is urging persons living with HIV in the country to remain committed to taking their antiretroviral therapy, the medication taken to suppress the progression of the virus.
LIPRIDE is a coalition of organizations partnering with relevant government institutions including the National AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Program, and other partners in responding to HIV, human rights, and other health-related issues.
In commemoration of World AIDS Day 2022, LIPRIDE said it believes that treatment adherence for persons living with HIV is the surest way to prevent health complications.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), effective antiretroviral therapy is the most important intervention in terms of improving longevity and preventing opportunistic infections in recipients of care.
Maxwell W. Monboe, Coordinator of LIPRIDE said as Liberia strives to be on par with achieving counties in ending AIDS by 2030, PLHIV’s adherence to treatment is critical.
Addressing an advocacy forum organized by LIPRIDE for its member Association of Liberian key populations living with HIV (ALL+) in Congo Town, Maxwell admonished the recipients of care to always adhere to treatment for self-preservation.
Funded by RFSU through Amplifying Rights Network, the LIPRIDE Coordinator also educated the group to take advantage of the new prevention interventions which include one pill, multi months dispensing, and oral quick self-testing kit in order to avoid other opportunistic infections.
“As we observe this year’s World AIDS Day, remember that your treatment is your life. Do not make the slightest mistake to default because the aftermath will be detrimental to your health,” Maxwell told the recipients of care.
He reminded them that “the AIDS movement led by people living with HIV and their allies has been committed in addressing the impacts of health situations, as such adhering to treatment will help to suppress the virus.”
“Although there is no cure yet for HIV, the presence of ART has brought hope for PLHIV. The benefits of ART also include the prevention of HIV transmission and suppressing HIV replication in persons living with the virus. The most encouraging benefit of ART is the “undetectable equal untransmittable”, Maxwell said.
The LIPRIDE Coordinator said no recipient of care/person living with HIV should experience health complications caused by opportunistic infections, when there is a medication to prevent such occurrence.
Maxwell encouraged the recipients of care that “adhering to treatment means you are on effective medication wherein the virus will not attack/weaken your immune system, and the virus becomes severely suppressed to the stage where you become untransmittable.”
Mr. Monboe also told the recipients of care to report unfavorable behaviors by health practitioners who want to make the environment for access to health services unfriendly.
According to him, LIPRIDE remains committed to partnering with relevant government institutions to address stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV, hate speech and rejection directed at key population groups, and the existence of laws and policies that tend to narrow the space for equal access to health services for all.
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Stop AIDS in Liberia Evans Adofo encouraged the recipients of care to consider the intake of nutritional foods, as they continue to take their medication to help maintain/build a strong immune system.
Mr. Adofo, also Chairman of LIPRIDE Board of Advisors said nutritional foods help people living with HIV maintain a healthy weight and absorb HIV medicines, thus making it difficult for the virus to undermine the immune system.
Liberia has a generalized HIV epidemic with the reproductive-age population showing an HIV prevalence of 2.1%. The UNAIDS 2021 Spectrum Estimates put the number of persons living with HIV at 34,358.
Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties remain the highest HIV prevalence among the 15 counties. The three counties account for about 70% of the HIV burden in the country.
Also, the 2018 Integrated Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) shows high HIV prevalence among key and vulnerable populations in the country.
The report revealed that Men who have sex with men account for 37.9% of HIV prevalence, 27.6% for transgender women, 17.6% for Uniformed service personnel, and 16.7% for female sex workers.
Others are 9.6% for transport workers, 14.4% for people who inject drugs, 5.5% for Inmates, 3.8% for mobile traders, and 3.0% for miners.
With barely eight (8) years to the global target of ending AIDS by 2030, Liberia is combining efforts to ensure that no new HIV-related discriminatory laws, regulations, and policies should be passed, existing HIV-related discriminatory laws, regulations, and policies should be repealed, and 90% of persons living with HIV and members of the key population have access to justice and can challenge rights violations.
Liberia is seeking support from policymakers to reform laws, policies, and practices to tackle stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV and key populations to ensure that everyone is respected, and no one is denied health services based on perceived or positive HIV status or sexual identity.