The Liberia Network of People Living with HIV or LIBNEP+, representing People living with HIV peer support groups and associations across Liberia, says it is deeply troubled by the current outbreak of the Ebola disease in the County.
“We are troubled by the many deaths associated with the Ebola outbreak, including Healthcare Workers, who are playing significant roles in our survival. And we wish to extend our condolences to all who may have died due to the outbreak,” the group said.
LIBNEP, however, claimed to be deeply depressed because of the Ebola outbreak, couple with the state of emergency which has halted its national HIV response services across Liberia, resulting to their inability to access Anti-retroviral Therapy and other medical services that are key to the existence of its members living with HIV in Liberia.
The organization, in a statement issued in Monrovia recently, noted that the situation has also increased the number of HIV-related deaths and resulted to high cost of living, including transportation and food (rice, vegetables, fish), thereby threatening their poor nutritional conditions. LIBNEP also blamed the disruption of its ability to conduct HIV supportive counseling and support group activities, as well as the pending stock out of HIV drugs/ART in the country in next six months, on the current Ebola outbreak.
According to the 2013 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey, the organization said, Liberia’s prevalence is at 1.9%. LIBNEP warned that if nothing is done to timely address these issues of access to treatment, care and support, there would be more HIV-related nationwide deaths, increase in HIV prevalence, possible HIV drugs resistance, as well as stigma and Discrimination against PLHIV.
Meanwhile, LIBNEP has expressed the belief that the Ebola response will be incomplete without the total involvement of people living with HIV, emphasizing that equal treatment should be provided, due to the severe impact which the both viruses are having on the country and the world at large. LIBNEP recommended their participation in the fight against the Ebola Virus, as they did in the case of the HIV response activities.