- NAC discloses
Leila B. Gbati writes:
The National Aids Commission (NAC) has disclosed that over 34,000 people in Liberia are living with HIV.
The announcement was made by the Chairperson of the NAC, Madam Theodosia S. Kolee, at the Ministry of Information’s Regular Press Briefing on Thursday, July 21, 2022.
Speaking on the current status of the NAC, Madam Kolee said that Liberia will continue to make steadfast progress in the fight to end Aids, which is a public health treatable by 2030.
Madam Kolee indicated that the 2022 Spectrum estimate that was conducted revealed that over 34,000 people in Liberia are living with HIV. As such, women account for 20,000, men for 12,000, and children from 0-14 make up the total of 34,000.
According to the NAC Chairperson, stigma and discrimination are causing HIV to spread in Liberia, therefore calling on all Liberians to get involved in working together to end HIV by 2030.
Madam Kolee told the media that the NAC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH), is ensuring the following measures to end HIV by 2030 by providing free HIV testing, treatment, and care services are being offered across the country.
She also mentioned that the Commission has over 600 facilities offering HIV counseling and testing; 472 facilities offering prevention of mother-to-child transmission services; 250 facilities offering anti-retrovirus medication services to people living with HIV; and 17 facilities with virusload machines for testing and referral.
However, the NAC Chairperson maintained that within the across the 15 counties of Liberia, the Commission has virus load machines which are used to monitor people before they get on treatment, emphasizing that virus load coverage has increased from less than to 30, which is about 76%, meaning that 16 plus people who have been on treatment have virusly suppressed HIV.
We have also increased the treatment of HIav at facilities in the country because we want to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination in the country. What is happening now is that instead of going to the facilities to get your medication, you can go to a well-known pharmacy and get your medication because we have trained pharmacists there. We also introduced self-testing, which means once you have your test kit, you can do your own HIV test under the guidance of a trained counselor, but if your result becomes reactive, you will still have to do a confirmation test at the facility level before you can determine whether you are HIV positive, “she said.
Furthermore, Madam Kolee emphasized that one of the good progress Liberia has made is to kill the HIV combination for both general and key population groups, which means that once a person is exposed to the virus, they can take a medication for 72 hours to stop the virus from transmitting to them.
“Another big step forward for Liberia was making a National Strategy Plan, which was launched, printed, and sent to every part of the country.She said, “This is a five-year plan that will guide the implementation of the National HIV Response and is in line with the UN Fast Track Strategy to reach the global goal of 95/95.”
Madam Kolee noted that for the first 9595 global target, Liberia is at 66%, that is 22,636 people know their HIV status, 93% (2,167) are on treatment and those with viral load suppressor is about 76%, which is 1,624.
As part of the National Strategy Plan, she said that President Weah and the Board of the NAC are committed to the global effort to get rid of HIV by 2030.
Meanwhile, statically, she said that men who have sex with men account for 37.9% of the total, up from 19.8% in 2013. Female sex workers are at 15.7%, down from 9.8%, and security personnel are at 17.6%, including transport workers, from 9.6% to 26%, and people who inject drugs at 14.4%.
The NAC Chairperson, in conclusion, used the medium to encourage men to know their HIV status, emphasizing that they notice that 80% of females know their status while just 20% of males.
“We are working with partners and other countries to ensure that we meet the 9595 target. Therefore, we are calling on everyone because this sends out a wake-up call to all of us to get involved and end HIV in Liberia by 2030.” Get tested and know your HIV status. Once you know your status, you can get on treatment and you will stop spreading the virus,” Madam Kolee said.
She said Liberia has 93% of HIV patients on treatment, adding that “so we are getting there, but it is up to all Liberians to come together to help reduce stigma and discrimination”.