By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
Liberia joins the world today in observing World AIDS Day under the global theme, “Close the gaps” with special programs scheduled to take place in Monrovia where the National HIV Response is expected to be re-launched.
The day will be commemorated under a national theme, “Addressing the impact of Ebola on the National HIV Response” and Liberians will join governments, health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world to educate citizens in their respective countries on HIV and AIDS prevention and control.
Liberia being among other African countries hard hit by the Ebola virus, this year’s celebration comes in the midst of the gruesome reality of the Ebola virus crisis which according to stakeholders affected its National HIV Response in many ways.
Globally, the gaps in eradicating if not curtailing the spread of HIV and AIDS have been basically found in the areas of prevention, treatment and other service provision areas. Issues of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV are still a serious concern.
In spite of the strides made in deriving at some positive signs in Liberia, the Ebola virus crisis has played a significant part in dragging these efforts back as that the National AIDS Commission (NAC) is reporting only 25 percent of the people living with HIV who were regularly being treated now receiving treatment in the country.
Health practitioners are reminding Liberians that as another World AIDS Day is being observed, HIV is still in Liberia and it is also real just as the Ebola virus and call on the public to join the bandwagon in educating the public about the modes of transmission and risk factors of HIV alongside the awareness of the Ebola virus.
At this year’s commemoration of the World AIDS Day celebration, the NAC promises to work along with the Ministry of Health to restore treatment sites and assess the impact of the Ebola virus on the said response as part of its priorities for 2015 and beyond.