The First Lady of Liberia Madam Clar Weah has held a one-day roundtable dialogue on AIDS with an aim to stop new HIV infections and get people on lifesaving, infection-preventing treatment amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
Every December 1 is World AIDS Day. This year’s global theme is Global is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”. The National theme for this year is “Get involved, end AIDS together in Liberia”.
Madam Weah recalled that two years ago, when she hosted similar roundtable dialogue and was hopeful that the next meetings would be about the great progress that they have made over the time.
Liberia First Lady added: “Unfortunately, HIV and AIDS remain a public health threat to our country and population. Our young people, especially women and key populations which include sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, transgender people, and gay men and other men who have sex with men are the most affected.”
The National AIDS Commission recently released its report stating clearly that 47, 000 persons are living with HIV in Liberia. Out of this number, women account for 26,000, men 17,000 while children from zero-14 years account for 4,000.
Madam Weah stressed that the data is alarming. According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult in fighting to eradicate AIDS around the globe.
“Certainly the Covid-19 pandemic terribly affected our country however, even before COVID-19, we were not making progress fast enough to stop new HIV infections and get people on lifesaving, infection-preventing treatment – and the COVID-19 pandemic has knocked us further off-track,” Madam Weah said.
“We must act now. We have to fight harder to regain lost ground and get back on track to achieve the 2025 targets – and end the HIV epidemic by 2030.
“Despite all, The COVID-19 pandemic taught us a key lesson “no one is safe until everyone is safe’. In light of this, this year’s World AIDS Day calls for “Global Solidarity, Shared responsibility.”
She added that government needs to invest in quality and strengthened health services, increase awareness on AIDS prevention, treatment and more importantly stop stigma and discrimination.
“As stated in my remarks two days ago, at programs marking this year’s World AIDS Day celebration, we must join efforts to discourage stigma and discrimination, encourage treatment adherence, and encourage HIV testing by men, young people and other key population groups,” she explains
“It is my hope that this roundtable will further solidify our national response and boost our drive to achieve the thematic goals of the National Strategic Plan II including the 95-95-95 targets by 2030.” She said.
Also speaking, Chinese Ambassador accredited to Liberia, H.E. Ambassador Fu Jijun explained that China first reported its first AIDS in the 1980s. Currently, he says there are more than 700,000 people living with AIDS in China.
Ambassador Jijing also added that partnership is very important in eradicating the virus.
“It comes with finance, awareness and so on. This year, COVID-19 has even more increased the challenges. China and Liberia are good friends and we have been helping each other in so many areas. So, China will support Liberia in the fight of HIV,” Ambassador JiJing said.
Adding up, the Minister of Health Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah said: “We must focus on preventing anyone from getting HIV and that is the only way we move to low disease.”
She added that the Ministry will continue to work with WHO and partners to continue their supports the different groups to execute all of the programs.
“As we continue to advocate for funding where ever we go, so that Liberia can become a country where HIV and AIDS will become history,” Minister Jallah said.