By Lewis S. Verdier, II in Harper
The HIV/TB Department at the J. J. Dossen Hospital in Harper, Maryland County has confirmed an increase of HIV in Maryland County. The hospital disclosed that many persons diagnosed at the J.J. Dossen Hospital have been confirmed HIV positive but have refused to accept their status.
According to the Supervisor of HIV/TB at the J. J. Dossen Hospital, Eugene D. Golomah, when people are tested positive they usually refuse their status and move to nearby towns and villages thereby sharing the virus with others.
Mr. Golomah attested that the migration of infected people draws a fact that HIV is on the increase in Maryland County.
He said HIV positive migrants cannot be traced easily as many of them are in hiding for fear that they might either be discriminated, marginalized or stigmatized.
Mr. Golomah said recent statistics show that the majority of those infected with HIV are young females of child-bearing ages ranging from 15 years and above.
In an effort to tackle the rapid increase of HIV, the Maryland County Health Team is working with partners doing door-to-door information-sharing on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This outreach is done with the help of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). The CHVs outreach is a door-to-door campaign, a strategy designed to help reduce stigma, and discrimination or rumors about HIV.
“The CHVs also encourage people to do their HIV test to know their status,” Mr. Golomah said. He added that the HIV virus is not a crime neither death nor the end of life. He then added, “You can still be HIV positive and live.”
The HIV/TB Supervisor said people should know that HIV can be suppressed and if an individual is tested positive they can enroll in care and treatment and can be healthy soldiers in combating HIV/AIDS in Liberia.
The Supervisor of HIV/TB at the J. J. Dossen Hospital Mr. Eugene D. Golomah said the number of TB cases in Maryland has dropped to 113 with the TB cases being prevalent in Pleebo District the most densely populated commercial town in Maryland County.
At least there have been five cases of tuberculosis related deaths in recent times. He said three TB diagnostic centers and six treatment centers have been established by the TB-UNIT in the county.
According to Mr. Golomah, these centers are currently functioning providing needed services and care to people with TB.
These centers are situated in Harper, Pleebo and Cavalla while the unit is also contemplating on the establishment of other centers in Karluway and Barrobo District to meet the need of people in that part of the county.
A site was created in Barrobo but it was minimized because of infrastructure, while the site that was created in cavalla is not operational because staffers assigned to the area have abandoned the center.
Mr. Golomah said a data base created stated that all medical staffers were trained on TB activities but he stressed the need for advanced training.
He said there is a need for the reactivation of some of the service centers and that the unit does refreshers and awareness on TB both in towns and villages and on the Little Wlebbo Refugee Camp.
He said the unit has also embarked on an on-site monitoring on the camp so that they can detect these cases and report them to the J.J Dossen referral hospital for diagnosis and treatment.