Rights Group Urges Gov’t

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…To Introduce Holistic HIV Scale Up Programs

A group of human rights organizations under the banner, Liberian Civil Society Organizations buttressing the National HIV Response, is calling on Government to be holistic in addressing the prevention of the virus.

The groups include Liberia’s Initiative for the Promotion of Rights, Identity, Diversity and Equality and Persons infected and affected by HIV.

The groups said as the country renews effort to scale up HIV interventions across the country, the Liberian government must now begin to ensure that issues undermining the national HIV response are addressed.

Reading the groups’ position statement during the commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day over the weekend, Evans L. Adofo said one of the issues is stock-Out of Antiretroviral drugs which he said is a serious concern in the Country and hoped that something can be done to address it because persons living with the virus need the drugs to live.

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Mr. Adofo said they have observed with dismay, an ineffective supply chain management in Liberia.

“The systems have failed miserably to control the distribution of drugs to various facilities in the country where persons living with the virus can access.

ARVs for children to some facilities like JFK, Redemption, Catholic and ELWA has been a major problem. For example, there has been perpetual shortage of cartages for viral load machine,” he said.

Mr. Adofo said because of weak supply chain system which is contributing to stock-out, many persons living with HIV had lost confidence and have given up in seeking treatment at various facilities.

According to him, another factor contributing to lose to follow up is the influence of traditional and religious healers who said they have cure for HIV”.

“We call on the government of Liberia especially the Ministries of Internal Affairs and health to investigate this matter because it is undermining the response. They do not do follow up anymore, a very important aspect to their survival,” Mr. Adofo said. Mr. Adofo on behalf of the groups told the gathering that lack of access to medication for key and vulnerable populations including sexual minority persons living with HIV in rural communities still stands as a challenge that needs to be addressed.

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They want funding for key populations to be directed to strategic organizations to ensure sustainable ownership, greater involvement of local structures and increase visibility.

As it is done in other countries, Evans said; “We are recommending to President George Manneh Weah to appoint a representative of persons living with HIV as one of the commissioners or board members at the National AIDS Commission as a means of directly involving persons infected with the virus in Liberia.

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According to Mr. Aldofo, if their concerns are addressed, 90 percent of persons living with HIV will know their status, 90 persons of those tested positive will get on treatment and 90 percent of Persons living with HIV on treatment will have a suppressed viral load by 2020.

Observe on the 1st of December every year, World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness about the HIV and AIDS pandemic; providing a platform to reflect on the achievements made in the national HIV response and to embrace with optimistic solidarity people living with HIV.

The campaign aims at ensuring quality treatment and support for persons living with HIV and advocating for the reduction of stigma and discrimination in society against families infected and affected by the virus.

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