Liberia: Pregnant Women Not Reporting for HIV Test

-National AIDs Control Program alarms

An official of the National AIDs Control Program in Maryland County has alarmed about low turnout of pregnant women at various health center in the County. The Clinical Method, Faith Bardio, made the observation during a one day EMTCT advocacy meeting in Pleebo, Maryland County Electoral district#2.

The EMTCT advocacy meeting was held at the Pleebo Health Center on Saturday, May 8, 2021. It brought together zonal leaders, religious leaders, including both Muslims and Christians, Community Health Assistants (CHAs), Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), Partner In Health Representative, Pleebo Health Center Administrator, rural women heads, and the media, among others.

Mr. Bardio lauded citizens for the huge turnout, noting that the meeting was intended to dialogue on increased HIV cases despite efforts by the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) to reduce spread of the virus.According to her, the increase cases are mostly being observed due to refusal of pregnant women to visit health centers during early pregnancy.

The clinical method disclosed that several cases of HIV and AIDs these days are mostly from mother to child due, to failure of some pregnant women to know their status.She stressed that the situation is becoming worrisome because the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) has put several measures in place to protect mother- to- child transmission.

She said there are other pregnant women who have visited the health center and were tested of the virus but refused to go for treatment.The added that health workers have been encouraging citizens, mostly pregnant women to always visit health centers in order to know their HIV status.

"We want to encourage you as heads of your various areas, to talk to your people that are refusing to visit the health facilities to stop because the health centers were built for patients", Madam Bardio urged.

She warned those pregnant women who are refusing to go check their health status that it's so risky for their unborn children.She said fear of death shouldn't serve as obstacle for people not visiting health facilities for HIV and AIDS test.

She mentioned that the virus can't kill if one is tested and starts to receive treatment regularly.

The clinical method however used the one day meeting with citizens to call on community dwellers to avoid stigmatizing and discriminating people living with HIV and AIDS.

At the same time she commended other citizens who are always visiting the health facilities for medication and to know their health status.According to her, the National AIDs Control Program has setup a new policy that includes HIV and AIDS compulsory test, once a patient visits the health center.

Rev. Samuel Dennis, Sr of the First Assembly of God Church in Pleebo Sodoken district thanked Madam Faith Bardio and the Ministry of Health for organizing the one day health meeting.He noted the meeting will motivate religious leaders to inform the various congregations about HIV and AIDS.

He stressed that although others are yet to believe the disease exits, but it was spelled out in the Bible so, churches will inform their members about the new policy from the National AIDS Control Program (NACP).

Similarly, the Imam of Pleebo, commended the health team for including Muslims on the awareness.

Imam Bah stressed that it has been difficult for the Muslim community to be involved in activities in the district but now their involvement will help to reduce increase in cases because the information will go across the various mosques.

He then recommended for regular awareness on community radio stations to educate citizens that HIV and AIDS don't kill if one lives on the medication.

Mrs. Bestsy Wallo, President of Maryland Women, said although it's wrong for a pregnant woman to stop visiting the health centers, but health workers should treat them with care.She said it's so frustrating that a pregnant woman will leave her house from the morning hours to come to the health center and later go home without being treated.

Mrs. Wallo said such thing alone can make a pregnant woman not to even think of returning to the health center but again. However, she encourage her fellow women to always visit the health facilities and "our health workers, please keep our people information as secret", she added.

The Maryland County women president continued that she welcomes the new policy from the National AIDS Control Program but hoped it will help in reducing the increased cases of HIV and AIDS or STD in the country.

Meanwhile, it has been noted that since 1986 when the first case of HIV and AIDS was discovered in Liberia, statistics from Liberia's demographic health survey has shown that about1.5 percent of Liberia's population is HIV-positive, with 60 percent of those being women or girls.

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