The alarming increase in the number of Liberians living with HIV/AIDS must compel the Liberian government and United Nations agencies in the country to implement programs and policies that will support the prevention and spread of the disease in the country.
Speaking at the celebration of the National AIDS Day in Fiamah, Monrovia yesterday, the founder and executive director of the local non-government organization, Helping Impact Liberia (HIL), Paulita C. C. Wie, said there are over 30,000 people living with HIV who deserve equal support and empowerment.
“More people than ever before are living with HIV in Liberia and about 1,000 new cases are diagnosed every year,” she stated. “Despite the virus only being identified in 1984 worldwide, more than 35 million people have died of HIV and AIDS, making it one of the most vicious diseases in history.”
Executive Director Wie said AIDS is real and it still exists more than ever before. “HIV and AIDS are undermining Liberia’s development and progress and every day we live with those who live with HIV/AIDS,” she added.
She said that although Liberia hopes to ensure that HIV/AIDS awareness is available to all by 2020, she, however, regrets the acute shortage of drugs to treat people living with HIV/AIDS.
The celebration of World AIDS Day, normally held on December 1, “is a great opportunity to raise money for the fight against the deadly virus and show our support for people living with HIV; and that’s why we have more than 50 junior and senior high schools in Montserrado County fully involved in the occasion.”
Wie said Liberia has set the 90-90-90 target and aims to meet it by 2020, “which means 90 percent of Liberians living with HIV knowing their status; 90 percent of all those diagnosed with HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of all those receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suspension.”
“As outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adopted by governments in 2015, we are to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages by reducing the number of mothers who die giving birth as well as preventing deaths of newborns and children under five,” she said.
Director Wie noted that the celebration of World AIDS Day is also important because it reminds the Government of Liberia that HIV is still here and there is still the vital need to: raise money; increase awareness; fight prejudice; and improve education for all Liberians.
She called on Liberians to have a change of attitude that will ensure that people living with AIDS don’t live with fear, rejection, and prejudice and are not discriminated against.
“Let us use knowledge and understanding to open each other’s eyes because there is no reason at all to let fear overpower love,” she said. The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) puts Liberia’s prevalence rate at 1.9 percent in the sexually active age group (15-49).
The program was organized by Helping Impact Liberia in collaboration with World at School, and Global Youth Ambassador for Education to create awareness and promote HIV prevention in District #9. Besides a street parade, soccer matches were played between six communities.