HIV/AIDS and KPs Continue to Suffer Needlessly in Liberia

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Dr. Djibril Diallo, Regional Director of UNAIDS with participants of joint meeting on HIV/AIDS: The route to obtaining HIV treatment is still difficult for people living with HIV and key populations; Liberia is far behind meeting targets in the new National Strategic Plan (NSP 2015-18).

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, and Anti AIDS Media Network recently concluded “a successful meeting” with the Regional Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) for West and Central Africa, Dr. Djibril Diallo.

The meeting was held at the UNAIDS Country Office in Monrovia recently during the second day of Dr. Diallo and team’s visit to Liberia.
The LIBNEP+ and organizations working with key populations in Liberia delivered PowerPoint presentations on their 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.
In addition, route to obtaining HIV treatment is still difficult for people living with HIV and key populations with barriers such as stigma and discrimination, legal and protective frame work, human rights abuses and violation of KAPs, HIV drugs stock outs , diagnostics, and poor quality of service. route to obtaining HIV treatment is still difficult for people living with HIV and key populations
The Ebola crisis provided important lessons for which the participants recommend the need to prioritize the total involvement of people living with HIV and key populations in the national response.

The disclosure by the 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 a suppressed viral load by 2020.

Stephen McGill, Executive Director of Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL), one of the organization’s working with Key Populations and people living with HIV, said 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.

“If we should end AIDS we should all do it together with community involvement and commitment with the political declaration on HIV and AIDS,” he said.

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 at which time a new Political Declaration was adopted by the global community.

The UNAIDS Regional Director noted that 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 a product 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.

Global achievements in terms of access to HIV-related treatment services – from 770,000 in 2010, the number of people living with HIV on treatment reached 17 million by the end 2015.

The report said that still, for diverse reasons, the West and Central Africa region is lagging behind – for example, only 28% access this treatment as opposed to 54% in Eastern and Southern Africa that has a much higher prevalence. 6, 5 million were living with HIV by end of 2015, and of whom 60% are women.

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