The National Aids Secretariats (NAS) Tuesday held a press briefing with journalists ahead of the upcoming World Aids Day campaign to be held on the 1st December 2012 at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) grounds.
The press briefing was held at the NAS office in Kanifing and was attended by NAS officials and partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The campaign, according to officials, is an annual event meant to reflect on HIV responses in different countries and to further sensitise the general public on the achievement registered as well as the challenges that lie ahead in attaining this year's theme i.e. "Getting to Zero". The theme, they said, is a continuation of last year's theme, and meant to eradicate HIV AIDS infection, stigma and discrimination and AIDS related death.
The UNAIDS Country officer, Nuha Ceesay, said the briefing was meant to interact and share information about the global celebration which has now turned to a campaign with journalists as they are key partners in information dissemination. "December 1st has been declared as the World Aids Day by the World Health Organisation and it is celebrated globally every year of which The Gambia is not an exception to the HIV/AIDS responses," he remarked.
He stressed that global and mutual solidarity can bring the epidemic under control, noting that December 1st is the day when the UNAIDS do launch its report to show the achievements registered and challenges. "We cannot eliminate Stigma and discrimination if the media is not constructively engaged or fails to play its role," Ceesay noted.
Almamo Barrow, the head of Health Programme, Action Aids International The Gambia (AAITG), disclosed that the HIV/AIDS virus was first found in The Gambia in 1986. He said that progresses have been registered but still challenges lies ahead as the virus is still not eradicated. He applauded the media for the vital role they play in the society and tasked journalists to accurately relate the message to the public.
The deputy director of NAS, Alpha Khan, and the manager of the National AIDS Control Programme, Pa Ousman Bah, both expressed similar sentiments.