Despite unprecedented health threats being posed to the population by the Coronavirus, the National AIDS Commission of Liberia (NAC) is urging Liberians and other nationals not to lose focus on preventing themselves from the spread of HIV and AIDS infections.
The Commission is also urging persons living with HIV (PLHIV) to remain committed in taking their Antiretroviral Therapy/Treatment (ART) to prevent further health complications.
In a statement released Thursday, the AIDS Commission said though public attention is mostly directed to containing COVID-19, effort in preventing HIV infections must not be overlooked.
Currently, there are an estimated 35, 000 persons living with HIV in Liberia, according to the UNAIDS’ 2021 Spectrum estimates (to be published in late July 2021), with women accounting for 20,000, 12,000 for men and 3, 000 for children from zero to 14 years.
The release quotes the Chairperson of the AIDS Commission, Madam Theodosia S. Kolee as saying, it is also estimated that 1,100 new HIV infections occur annually in the country among persons from 15 years and above.
Madam Kolee further disclosed that while efforts are being exerted to prevent death, 1,100 persons die annually due to AIDS-related complications.
The AIDS Commission Chairperson urged that as the country strives to tackle the COVID-19, preventing HIV and AIDS which is an underlining health condition must be given serious attention.
Madam Kolee is meanwhile, admonishing health authorities and healthcare providers to keep conversation on HIV and AIDS as an ongoing issue in providing education to the public, and as well as creating an enabling environment for persons living with the virus to access the treatment.
“We are aware that the country is fighting COVID, however, we need to equally be aware that HIV is still here with new cases coming out every day. This shows that we need to include HIV issues in our daily conversations because HIV and COVID-19 are linked and must be addressed together,” Madam Kolee said.
The AIDS Commission boss observed that it would be detrimental to the country if HIV and AIDS prevention issues are treated as secondary during this period of health crisis.
Madam Kolee recalls that the commission does not want a repeat of the Ebola situation in the country where the new HIV infections dramatically increased and conditions of some of those living with HIV worsened because of treatment default and unavailability of ARVs.
The AIDS Commissions said stigma and discrimination are some of the stumbling blocks that must be addressed in preventing HIV because they are preventing people from seeking the needed services.
“Keep safe and follow all precautionary measures in preventing COVID-19,” the Aids Commission statement concluded.