(Monrovia, Liberia December 6, 2023): In commemoration of 2023 World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Commission has revealed that HIV and AIDS remain prevalent among key and vulnerable populations in the country, as she calls for concerted efforts to end the menace.
Observed every December 1, World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for people across the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died of AIDS-related complications.
Speaking at a program marking the official World AIDS Day commemoration in Paynesville, Theodosia Kolee said the Commission and its partners have made tremendous efforts in ensuring the reduction of new HIV infections in Liberia, with the hope of exerting effort to end AIDS as a public threat by 20230.
Madam Kolee said if Liberia should make further progress in ending AIDS, the government and the people of Liberia must ensure that people living with HIV are not discriminated against and marginalized in society.
Liberia has a generalized HIV epidemic with a reproductive-aged population showing an HIV prevalence of 2.1%.
According to Madam Kolee, UNAIDS’ 2022 Spectrum Estimates show that over 26,000 persons out of 34,431 persons estimated to be living with HIV currently know their status, 24,853 are placed on treatment and 20,157 have had their viral load suppressed. “Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties account for the highest among the 15 counties”, she said.
She also revealed that the 2028 Integrate Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) indicates that key and vulnerable populations have the highest HIV prevalence among the general population.
The AIDS Commission boss disclosed that Men who have sex with Men account for 37.9%, 27.6% for transgender women, 17.6% for uniformed service personnel, and 16.7% for female sex workers. Others are transport workers accounting for 9.6%, 14.4% for people who inject drugs, 5.5% for inmates, 3.8% for mobile traders and 3.0% for miners.
Madam Kolee encouraged people to voluntarily turn out to do their HIV test and know their status. She noted that the war against societal issues undermining the HIV response is not over, because HIV is still posing a threat to the country’s health, economic and political sectors.
Meanwhile, the Guest Speaker for this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration has called for combined efforts in combating the scourging effect of HIV and AIDS in the country.
Assistant Chief of staff for Health Services of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Ltc. (Dr.) Joseph Kowo said HIV is still a global threat to peace, human rights and the happiness of individuals living with HIV.
In his message, Ltc. (Dr.) Kowo said more than one thousand Liberians die every year from HIV-related causes in the country.
He said the military is part of the vulnerable population with high risk of HIV infection and it is important that they also join key community actors to lead the fight against HIV and AIDS in Liberia.
He acknowledged the progress made in the fight against HIV but also recognized the challenges that lie ahead.
Ltc. (Dr.) Kowo maintained that if Liberia must achieve the 95-95-95 global target by 2030, a positive posture must be exhibited like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana and others did to stand against human Rights abuse that led to their milestone.
He noted that when human rights are protected, fewer people become infected and those living with HIV and their families can better cope with the disease.
“Failure to protect the rights of people living with HIV may increase the spread of the virus and worsen the harmful impact in the communities and societies. When human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled on paper and in practice, these facilities provide universal access to prevention, and treatment, reduce stigma and discrimination, and create an environment that promotes access to health facilities and other HIV-related public services,” Ltc. (Dr.) Kowo said.
He wants the collective efforts of everyone to make significant strides in the fight against HIV, advance research, increase access to treatment and improve education to transform the disease into a manageable condition for all.