8 August 2017

Liberia: HIV Testing, Counseling Awareness Launched

The National AIDS Commission (NAC) launches HIV testing and counseling awareness as means of combating the fight against the virus.

The awareness targets Montserrado, Bong, and Grand Bassa counties because these counties are highly at risk constituting 2.7 percent of the HIV prevalence.

Speaking Monday at the commission's office in Monrovia, NAC communications director Lincoln Reeves said the commission is launching awareness on HIV testing and counseling because it is the gateway to all HIV and AIDS services that are part of the 2020 catchup plan in the country. According to him, conducting testing is important because knowing the results of the entire population helps the commission to monitor the in the virus. He noted that testing and counseling helps prevent pregnant women from spreading the virus to their babies.

"When medication is properly followed, pregnant women stand 96 percent chance of not transmitting the virus," Reeves added. The NAC communications director also pointed out that the National Aids Commission has developed a national checkup plan intended to skill up services which focus on training of health workers, logistics and increasing monitoring activities to all its facilities across the country.

The commission is considering this because during the Ebola, HIV services to meet the 9090 target by the United Nations-HIV by 2020 was undermined by the Ebola epidemic.

He emphasized that the method is to also ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV should know their status and be placed on treatment so as to have a reduction in the virus.

"This will intensify effort by the NAC to meet its target because the Ebola epidemic has caused the country to be behind," he iterated. The HIV prevalence in Liberian is now put at 2.1 percent, something Reeves claimed is as the result of more people taking advantage of the testing centers. He also linked the increase in HIV to the social and economic conditions people are faced with as most women depend on men for survivability.

"Women are the highest carriers of the virus because most women live on men, and so they do not have power to decide that they should have protected sex. People lost to follow up. Some people who go to the center when they are tested positive, they do not go for treatment, and we do not have resources or policing system to chase after these people which is also the cause of increase in HIV preference," Reeves maintained.

The management of this paper wishes to apologize for whatever embarrassment that the publication might have caused. Reeves cited that the denial of existence of HIV that it is an American idea to discourage sex also contributes to the increase of the virus.

He said good counseling is the key to ensuring people living with HIV stay on treatment with an encouragement for the center conduct pre and post counseling services for PLHIV.

Meanwhile in an erratum, an article published in the August 2, 2017 edition of this newspaper captioned "Liberia's HIV Catchup Plan Suffers Setbacks" was wrongly attributed to the UNAIDS Country Director.

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