25 October 2012

Liberia: Over 33,600 People Living With HIV/Aids in Liberia

Photo: Boakai Fofana/allAfrica.com
Campaigning against the spread of HIV

The National AIDS Commission (NAC) has given an update on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country thus announcing that about 33, 671 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Liberia constituting 60% among females.

The Commission says 10,756 people need ARV treatment while 6,592 are on treatment. This pronouncement was made by Commissioner Juanita Ramirez of the NAC at the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the National AIDS Commission held on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is chaired by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

During her presentation on the updates and discussions on the epidemic, Commissioner Ramirez named the impact of extreme poverty, vulnerability of young boys and girls in transactional sex and limited access to social services and income as some of the drivers of the HIV epidemic.

The NAC Commissioner also said the lack of low capacity of the system to deliver services and the high level of sexually transmitted infection are also among some of the contributing drivers to the epidemic. She further said the high level of informal multiple and concurrent partnerships and low decision-making of women and girls are also responsible for the spread of the virus.

Discussing the generalized HIV infection rates in Liberia, Commissioner Ramirez said out of the 33, 671 people living with HIV/AIDS 1,684 pregnant women are living with HIV while 1,325 new HIV infections have been discovered.

The NAC says the overall HIV rate among women is higher (1.8%) than among men (1.2%), revealing higher vulnerability of women to HIV infection. Furthermore, the Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS) data of 2007 revealed significant differences between urban and rural settings, with overall HIV rates in urban areas at 2.5 percent (and 2.9% in Monrovia) against only 0.8 percent in rural areas.

The Commission however admitted that with support from development and collaborating partners, Liberia has made tremendous progress in its response to the HIV and AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support programs to unprecedented level.

The report also revealed that the country has also scaled up its HIV counselling and testing services from 3 in 2006 to 366 sites at the end of September 2012. Access to the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV increased during the same period from 3 to 297 sites at the end of September 2012 while treatment, care, and support services also increased from 3 to 37 sites.

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