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HIV/AIDS campaigners meet with UNAIDS Regional boss

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The Liberia Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LIBNEP+) and civil society actors in the HIV sector, including Stop AIDs in Liberia (SAIL), LEGAL, Anti AIDS Media Network has concluded a successful meeting with the Regional Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) for West and Central Africa, Dr. Djibril Diallo.

HIVAIDS campaigners

The meeting was held at the UNAIDS Country Office on Wednesday, July 27, in Monrovia during the second day of Dr. Diallo and team’s visit to Liberia. According to a press release, the Liberia National Network of people living with HIV and organizations working with key populations in Liberia delivered PowerPoint presentations on achievements, challenges, way forward, and recommendations to help advance the national HIV and AIDS response. It was realized that Liberia is far behind meeting targets in the new National Strategic Plan (NSP 2015-18).

Participants highlighted that people living with HIV and AIDS and key Populations (KPs) continue to suffer needlessly in Liberia. Besides, route to obtaining HIV treatment is still a difficult course for people living with HIV here and key population with barriers such as stigma and discrimination, legal and protective framework, human rights abuses and violation of KAPs, HIV drugs stock outs , diagnostics, and poor quality of services. The Ebola crisis has provided huge lessons learnt for which the participants recommend the need to prioritize the total involvement of people living with HIV and Key Population in the national response.

The release says disclosure by people living with HIV comes two years after UNAIDS announced its “Fast-Tracking Approach on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030” or “90-90-90” goal which aims to make sure 90 percent of all people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of them have begun antiretroviral treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment have an suppressed viral load by 2020.

Stephen McGill, Executive Director of Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL), one of the organizations working with Key Population in Liberia and people living with HIV, averred that Liberia needs to adopt an approach that will speed progress toward the nation’s meeting its share of the global targets and country ownership by increasing domestic financing to close the gap so that no one is left behind. He said, “If we should end AIDS we should all to do it together with community involvement and commitment with the political declaration on HIV and AIDS.”

Speaking during the meeting with civil society actors, Dr. Diallo said he was happy to have met with representatives of people living with HIV and AIDS in the country. He mentioned outcomes of the High Level Meeting on AIDS held in New York, in June 2016 at which time a new Political Declaration was adopted by global community. The UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa noted the regional team is currently in readiness to facilitate the development of an Emergency Plan for West and Central Africa (WCA) Region. He said the WCA Emergency Plan is an emanation of the 2016 Political Declaration and it will aim at catalyzing the country and regional AIDS plans.

A new report launched by Doctors without Borders, highlights the huge gaps in terms of access to HIV services in the West and Central Africa region as opposed to global progress. Press release

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