December 1, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay
As Sierra Leone joins the world today, December 1, to observe World AIDS days, the ex-Vice President of Uganda is in the country to participate in events to commemorate the day, according to Coordinator at the National Aids Secretariat (NAS) Abubakarr Koroma.
Koroma, who spoke to our reporter from the eastern provincial headquarters, Kenema, where this year’s Worlds AIDS Day will be observed, said Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe is a special guest as the country commemorates the day on the theme ‘The Time to Act Is Now’.
Sierra Leone was recently declared ‘Ebola free’ after more than three thousand people died during the first Ebola outbreak in the country, and the worst in the world. During the outbreak HIV/AIDS related issues were put to the backburner as the country’s poor health infrastructure struggled to cope with Ebola and other diseases concurrently.
As the outbreak ebbed and subsequently defeated, NAS stepped up efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, with this year’s World Aids Day targeting 100, 000 people across the country with massive distribution of condoms. Some 3,400 defaulters will also be traced with a view to bringing them back to a treatment regime, while 4,000 pregnant women will be tested for HIV and syphilis.
The NAS Coordinator revealed that the reason for the massive condom distribution is because the secretariat was unable to provide treatment and care for HIV/AIDS patients last year as a result of the Ebola.
“Despite the challenges we faced last year with the Ebola outbreak, this secretariat is going to continue engaging the public about preventing against this virus,” said Mr. Kamara.
NAS Director General, Dr. Momodu Sesay recently disclosed that the country has an HIV prevalence rate of 1.5% among a population of approximately six million.
According to the World Health Organization, new HIV infections have dropped by 35% since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths by 24%. Some 16 million people are now receiving antiretroviral treatment – more than 11 million of them in Africa.
This September, world leaders agreed ambitious interim targets to fast track efforts to end AIDS. The new the WHO recommendations will be launched today to help achieve the targets, which include the use of innovative HIV testing methods, customising treatment approaches to meet the full diversity of people’s needs, and offering a wider spectrum of prevention options, said a release from WHO ahead of today’s global commemoration.