The Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) in and partners in collaboration with the National AIDS Commission of Liberia (NAC) are initiating a two-day HIV and social protection Assessment workshop in Monrovia.
The training is aims at discussing Liberia’s generalized HIV epidemic with an HIV prevalence of 2.1 percent, according to the Liberia Demographic Health Survey of 2013.In 2015 the said there was an estimated adult HIV population of 30,000. Significant variations in HIV prevalence according to the report indicated exist between and within regions and counties, and that the epidemic is heterogeneous and variable across the country.
The prevalence is higher among females (2.4% especially those above 20 years) compared to males compared to males (1.8% especially those above 30 years In an overview of the training Wednesday in Sinkor, the Country Director of UNAIDS to Liberia disclosed that 22,000 persons are living with HIV in Montserrado County. Dr. Miriam Chipimo said the prevalence of HIV in the county is the highest in Liberia.
She said Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties are next in line relative to counties mostly affected by HIV. The UNAIDS Country Director the need to prioritize treatment for people living with HIV in the three counties, considering that the mentioned counties account for the highest HIV rate in Liberia and account for 70 percent of the burden of the virus in the country.
Dr. Chipimo said when this is done, 75 percent of people living with HIV in Liberia would have been reached, thus helping to reduce HIV in Liberia.Currently, she said only 26 percent of people living with HIV has been reached, adding “we need to do more if we focus on the three counties in our social protection program.”
The UNAIDS Country Director disclosed that 2,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS are not on treatment, something, she said needs to be addressed. She said the need for community engagement and involvement so as to help tackle HIV across the post-conflict country. Dr. Chipimo disclosed that men living with the virus rarely show up for treatment compare to women.
According to Dr. Chipimo, UNAIDS’ continuous support in the fight against HIV remains unchanged. In remarks, National AIDS Commission of Liberia Chairman, Dr. Ivan F. Camanor said social protection is important in the fight against HIV. He said ensuring social protection for every group in Liberia, especially the vulnerable cannot be over emphasized because it is a key component in reducing and containing HIV.
Dr. Camanor said policies and laws crafted must be able to protect everybody particular those who are victim of diseases. He said the need for people living with HIV/AIDS to have access to treatment, thereby helping to reduce the virus in the country. Karl William Sr., Executive Director for Liberia Network of People Living with HIV said the fight against HIV and AIDS must be holistic void of discrimination and stigmatization. Mr. Williams said people living with HIV have rights, as such, they must be treated with dignity.