The National AIDS Commission (NAC) is urging persons living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country to remind themselves daily of the need to take their Antiretroviral Therapy/Treatment (ART).
ART is a combination of medication regularly taken by persons living with HIV to suppress the progression of the HIV virus in their bodies.
In a press statement on March 24, the AIDS Commission Chairperson Theodosia Slewion-Kolee, said, “Given the fact that persons living with HIV are vulnerable to the coronavirus due to underlying health conditions; the effect will be devastating if they abandon taking their treatment consistently in this critical time.”
According to Slewion-Kolee, the AIDs Commission does not want a repeat of the Ebola situation in the country where the conditions of some of those living with HIV worsened, “because of treatment default and unavailability of medication at some of the treatment centers.”
Madam Slewion-Kolee also urged all the “Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV to encourage their members to use all recommended preventive measures as they seek treatment to avoid reinfection of the HIV virus as well as being exposed to COVID-19.”
Madam Kolee is meanwhile admonishing health authorities and healthcare providers to pay special attention to persons living with HIV who have existing underlining health conditions to have unhindered access to treatment during this period, as they strive to prevent themselves from the Coronavirus.
The AIDS Commission boss said it would be detrimental to the country if people with previous health conditions especially those living with HIV are not prioritized in the fight against the coronavirus due to their compromised immune system.
In a related development, the Liberia National Red Cross Society has warned that prevention is not an option but a real demand in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in Liberia.
According to the Red Cross, the public has a “crucial role to play and should not take the COVID-19 pandemic lightly especially after Liberia has recorded three positive cases and with a lot more contacts.
In a press release, the Liberian Red Cross further said the public should strictly follow the Infection Prevention and Control measures and all other measures put in place by the government to make sure the outbreak does not proceed in a totally out of control fashion and overwhelm local health services and response capacities.
The LNRCS Secretary-General said it is crucial and urgent for communities to quickly identify and report close contacts of the confirmed cases at the moment, emphasizing that early detection, early testing, early isolation, and early treatment are much more effective for quick recovery and to stop further spread.
Mr. Ambullai Perry added that further transmission could also be reduced if people continue to wash their hands regularly, cover their mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing, avoid closed contact and isolate themselves if they have any symptoms.
“As an auxiliary to the public authorities, the Red Cross remains vigilant, focused and ready to complement the efforts of the government by promoting infection prevention and control measures in communities, as well as share prevention information to ensure that people are empowered and informed about their health and safety in the affected areas.”
He said the LNRCS is working with the health authorities to scale up its prevention initiatives and mobilize its volunteers for mass awareness and hygiene promotion but resources at its disposal at the moment are extremely insufficient and they are therefore, looking forward to support from the public, increased partnership, and collaboration in strengthening its response effort against the COVID-19.