The Regional Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) for the West and Central Africa, Dr. Djibril Diallo, paid a courtesy call on Deputy Foreign Minister B. Elias Shoniyin.
A Foreign Ministry release said, during their brief discussion Thursday, July 28, Mr. Shoniyin welcomed Dr. Diallo and delegation to Liberia, saying that Liberians were grateful for the visit.
“We are particularly pleased with your presence here. For us, this is a manifestation of your commitment and partnership to confront the challenges as it relates to HIV and AIDS,” the Deputy Foreign Minister said, further indicating that everyone was aware that the disease is one of the major challenges in Africa and Liberia is of no exception. “You have come at a very critical period because I was informed a few weeks ago that the HIV prevalence rate in Liberia saw a marginal increase as compared to previous years,” he said.
According to the Deputy Minister, this is a major concern of the government and people of Liberia, particularly in light of the nation’s recent history of the deadly Ebola virus disease, which left the nation’s health sector and economy badly hit.
“We understand how HIV and AIDS has affected the population in some parts of Africa so once we heard of the increase, it became extremely important for us,” he emphasized, informing Mr. Diallo that when he heard that he (Diallo) was visiting Liberia he had said that the visit was probably in response to this slight increase in the rate of infection and to figure out together what can be done in the partnership to tackle it.
He further told the Regional Director for West and Central Africa that the UNAIDS Office in Liberia has been collaborating with the Liberian Government in providing the necessary framework to the National AIDS Commission (NAC).
The Deputy Foreign Minister appealed to Dr. Diallo to take a look at Liberia’s HIV and AIDS program, including the country’s approach and give his pieces of advice while in the country for the next few days.
Responding, Dr. Diallo thanked Mr. Shoniyin for the warm welcome.
He noted that notwithstanding the slight increase in the prevalence rate of HIV in Liberia, they intend to use Liberia as an “Island of Hope”, for the Emergency Plan for West and Central Africa expected to be launched shortly at the UN Headquarters in New York, U.S.A. He said the regions need to have more attention if the world is to attain the goal of ending the pandemic.