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Government warned not to lose sight of AIDS

…Even as Ebola rages

August 7, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Country Programme Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has called on the government to strategically pay attention to HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone even as the fight to end the Ebola outbreak rages.

Ms. Miatta Jambawai in an exclusive interview with this medium said Sierra Leoneans should still consider HIV/AIDS as one of the diseases afflicting people in the country, nothing that the virus continues to infect despite frantic efforts by the National AIDS Secretariat and its partners to eradicate it.

“As we move forward with our efforts and commitments in fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone, I want to urge government and other development partners to concentrate as well on HIV/AIDS,” she said.

Ms. Jambawai said her organization has been working hard to seek the interest of people living with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Also, AHF Animator Abdul Aziz Jalloh said stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIVs (PLHIVs) was one of the biggest challenges in the HIV response.

“High stigma and discrimination frustrate the implementation of HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support services, particularly with regards people being discouraged to access these services. This in turn increases the risk of HIV transmission,” he said adding that the timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is critical in HIV prevention because a dramatically lowered viral load suppresses the onward transmission of HIV to other people when adherence levels are high,” Jalloh told our reporter.

He added: “Sierra Leone’s ART guidelines, which were aligned to international guidelines in 2007, adjusted eligibility from a CD4 count of 200 to 350, as such, people could begin treatment before they became ill and more infectious. However, as per the 2010 Joint Programme Review of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2006-2010, although ART treatment services have been dramatically scaled up, only 52 % of eligible adults and 5 % of eligible children were receiving ART by 2010, and adherence and delivery continue to pose grave challenges in Sierra Leone.”