UNAIDS Calls on HIV, Ebola Survivors

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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has concluded a two-day training workshop targeting people living with HIV and Ebola Survivors to scale up efforts of ending stigma and discrimination. The workshop was organized with support from UNAIDS from 18th to 19th March, 2015 at a local hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.

A total of 30 members of the Liberia Network of PLHIV (LIBNEP+) and Ebola Survivors Association in Liberia (ESAL) attended the workshop.

It focused on addressing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and Ebola survivors in Liberia, using the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention (PHDP) strategy and developing a work plan for inclusion in the Global Fund HIV Concept Note.

The primary goals of PHDP are to improve the dignity, quality, and length of life of people living with HIV and others in similar circumstances.

Speaking at the opening, UNAIDS Country Director-Dr. Betru Woldesemayat disclosed that UNAIDS is developing a new global Strategy 2016-2021 that focuses on ensuring that 90 percent of people infected with HIV know their status and will receive treatment.

It is about time that Liberia ends all forms of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and as Ebola survivors, he said.

“Stigma and discrimination will come to an end if you the people affected, stigmatized and discriminated against see this as an opportunity to collaborate with government and other partners to promote universal human rights,” Dr. Woldesemayat noted.

Making a PowerPoint presentation during the workshop, Mr Isaac Ahemesah, UNAIDS Rights, Gender, and Community Mobilization Adviser, said if positive health, dignity and prevention strategy is fully operational, it will have beneficial impact on people living with HIV and Ebola survivors’ partners, families, and communities, including reducing the likelihood of new infections of HIV.

“This means you have to consider yourselves as more than patients, not to be treated as vectors of transmission, a responsible party in the prevention of HIV and to help stop all forms of stigma and discrimination,” Mr. Ahemesah maintained.

During the interactive workshop, members of two networks (people living with HIV and Ebola Survivors) spoke of the burden of stigma and discrimination on their various networks.

On behalf of Ebola Survivors, Mr. Korlia Bonarwolo, president of the Ebola Survivors Association in Liberia expressed appreciation for the joint initiative.

“Together we can eliminate Ebola and HIV from Liberia,” Mr Bonarwolo intimated

Mr. Joe Joe Baysah, president of the network of people living with HIV thanked UNAIDS for its continuous support to the network and various associations that are members of the network. 

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