The NEWS (Monrovia)

26 November 2012

Liberia: HIV/Aids Not Death Sentence

The Chairman of the National AIDS Commission (NAC) says like hypotension or hypertension (high or low blood pressures), tuberculosis (TB), malaria and other chronic illnesses, the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), should not be libeled and seen as a "death sentence" in Liberia.

Dr. Ivan Camanor said just as other chronic diseases have got different forms of treatments, there are free treatments available for the HIV at various health facilities and hospitals.

Speaking Friday at the first editors' dialogue organized by the Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN), Dr. Camanor said there is pressing need for the development of messages that will help in changing or redirecting negative perceptions amongst the people about HIV and AIDS.

He said the media is an important medium through which these wrong perceptions about the virus can be changed.

The NAC Chairman called on the media to get more involved in the ongoing national HIV and AIDS response of the government and other partners.

"You need to identify your own program and activities as we form this partnership; do not be participants...get involved with all of the processes..." Dr. Camanor said.

UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Betru Tekle also challenged the media to get actively involved with the national HIV and AIDS response process, adding "You have the power to make things work."

For his part, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson said the government remains committed to the HIV and AIDS response.

Minister Jackson said the issue of professionalism on the part of journalists in reporting on HIV/AIDS issues should not be overlooked.

Over 2.5 million people became newly infected with HIV and people who died from AIDS related causes accounts for over 1.7 million worldwide in 2011 while 25% fewer deaths than in 2005, according to the Global Fact Sheet on HIV and AIDS.

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