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HIV Network, Ebola Survivors attend workshop

More than 30 representatives from the Liberia Network of People Living with HIV (LIBNEP) and the Ebola Survivors Association in Liberia or ESAL have participated in two-day training workshop in Monrovia, using the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention or PHDP strategy to develop a work plan for inclusion in the Global Fund HIV Concept Note.

The training was organized last week by UNAIDS at Corina Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia with key focus on addressing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and Ebola survivors in Liberia, consistent with the PHDP strategy.

A press release issued in Monrovia, says the primary goals of the PHDP are to improve the dignity, quality, and length of life of people living with HIV and others in similar category.

During the interactive workshop, members of the two networks spoke of the burden of stigma and discrimination on their respective organizations, families and communities.

In addition, participants developed a draft framework designed to be incorporated in the Global Fund HIV concept note.

As part of recommendations forwarded, participants called for strengthening of their support groups and networks; the establishment of county treatment observatory groups; home based care and buddy system to facilitate access to treatment; intensive Anti-stigma Campaign; legal literacy and support; and support for Orphans and venerable children (OVC), due to AIDS and Ebola in Liberia.

Speaking during the workshop, Madam Juanita Ramirez, the National AIDS Commission’s Commissioner on Partnership assured the participants of the Commission’s commitment to coordinating response to stopping the spread of HIV, as well as to stop all forms of stigma and discrimination against people with conductions. 

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She thanked UNAIDS for its continuous support to the NAC and networks of people, who are stigmatized and discriminated against in Liberia.

On behalf of Ebola Survivors, Mr. Korlia Bonarwolo, president of the Ebola Survivors Association in Liberia expressed appreciation for the joint initiative between HIV and Ebola survivors to address the challenges of stigma and discrimination. 

“Together we can eliminate Ebola and HIV from Liberia,” Mr Bonarwolo added.

Mr. Joe Joe Baysah, president of the network of people living with HIV thanked UNAIDS for its continuous support to the network and its affiliate associations. 

He noted that the workshop was an eye opener for the leadership of the network and its members. “We want to be thankful to UNAIDS for her many support to the network of people living with HIV in the country. With this workshop, we are sure of making a meaningful contribution to the Global Fund HIV grant concept note and the global effort to ending AIDS by 2030,” Mr. Baysah said.

Making a PowerPoint presentation during the workshop, Mr Isaac Ahemesah, UNAIDS Rights, Gender, and Community Mobilization Adviser, said if positive health, dignity and prevention strategy is fully operationalized, it will have beneficial impact on people living with HIV and Ebola survivors’ partners, families, and communities, including reducing the likelihood of new infections of HIV.

“This means you have to consider yourselves as more than patients, not to be treated as vectors of transmission, a responsible party in the prevention of HIV and to help stop all forms of stigma and discrimination, which means you will be telling the world and Liberia that you have needs and desires that must be fulfilled,” Mr. Ahemesah stressed.

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