The National AIDS Commission of Liberia (NAC) has provided insight to the media on the ongoing development process of the new HIV and AIDS National Strategic Plan II (NSP II) for Liberia, calling for holistic effort in addressing the impacts of the virus.
Speaking Thursday at the Ministry of information regular press briefing, the Chairperson of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Theodosia S. Kolee said the NSP 2021-2025, is a five year strategic document designed to fast track Liberia’s effort towards ending AIDS by 2030.
Madam Kolee informed the media that the objective of the NSP II focuses on the UNAIDS’ fast-track strategy to prevent new HIV infections and AIDS related deaths, as well as placing emphasis on treatment, care and support interventions by 2025.
According to Madam Kolee, the goal of the NSP is to reduce new HIV infection by 95 percent, test and treat by 95 percent and stigma and discrimination by 95 percent by 2030.
The AIDS Commission chairperson said unlike in the past, the new NSP will ensure that community participation with civil society organizations’ involvement is increased; coordination of stakeholders and governance of the national response strengthened.
She said the new NSP envisioned making Liberia free of HIV and AIDS by 2030, and a mission to attain public health control of the AIDS epidemic with less than 10 new HIV infections per year by 2030.
Pinpointing recent progress of the Commission, Madam Kolee told the media that the commission in collaboration with partners had documented key populations size estimates, with Men who have sex with men estimated at 74,634 with an HIV prevalence of 19.8 percent.
She said out of the estimated 74,634 Men who have sex Men, approximately 14,777 of them are living with HIV.
The Chairperson said the key populations size estimates also documented that there are 163,000 female sex workers in Liberia, accounting for 9.8 percent HIV prevalence. According to her, the commission has been able to document 1,741 transgender women in Liberia.
On the situational analysis of HIV and AIDS in Liberia, the AIDS Commission boss said currently, 39,000 Persons are living with HIV in the country, with women accounting for 22,000, men 14,000 and children 3,000
She puts the annual new HIV infections at 1,900 and annual AIDS related deaths to 1,800.
“To ensure that Liberia gets on par with the rest of the world in ending AIDS by 2020, it will require collective efforts that speak against stigma and discrimination targeted at people living with HIV, key population groups and encouraging people to do their test,” Chairperson Kolee said.
Madam Kolee urged the media not to only be interested in making HIV issues sensational which scary people away, but must be able to provide education that encourages people to seek HIV counseling and testing.
The National AIDS Commission chairperson said under various targets, the new NSP II will call on policymakers to ensure that there are zero new HIV related discriminatory laws, regulations and policies passed, repeal existing HIV related discriminatory laws, regulations and policies.
She said the new NSP wants to see 90 percent of Persons living with HIV having access to justice and can challenge rights violations, zero denial of health services based on perceived or positive HIV status, and reduce incidences of violence such as SGBV.
She said the commission remains committed to ensuring that the population is always educated to make an informed health decision, noting that the media is critically important in achieving such goal.
Reported By: Necus Andrews