July 9, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Sierra Leone (AHF-SL), says it is strongly complementing the efforts of government and the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country by ensuring Sierra Leone gets to zero new HIV infections by 2020 nationwide.
Since 2012, AHF-SL has been working in the eastern district town of Kenema and its environs, seeking the welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS in that part of the country.
AHF-SL Country Program Manager, Madam Miatta Jambawai, said in an exclusive interview that they are working in partnership with other institutions, including NAS, the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS), and District Health Management Teams (DHMTS) to ensure the disease is completely eradicated in the country.
“In collaboration with these partners, we have tested over 500,000 individuals across Sierra Leone, and our target is getting to zero by 2020. We want to ensure that we bring HIV/AIDS to its logical end. I want to thank AHF International Africa Bureau and our numerous partnerships for their support over the years,” she said, adding that since the outbreak of Ebola in the country, they had made several interventions to ensure HIV/AIDS patients regularly take their drugs.
“Our innovative approach in fighting HIV/AIDS, care and treatment has been very much appreciable; this has encouraged people to come out in their numbers for testing,” said Madam Jambawai. “AHF registered with the government of Sierra Leone in July 2011 but full operations started in 2012. We are the first organization to have provided free antiretroviral treatment and services in the country. This whole idea of AHF started with 23 patients at Jenner Wright clinic, Cline Town, in the east of Freetown. We worked very hard to save their lives.”
She continued: “Here in Kenema, we have dramatically improved on the prevention and control of the disease, and I am sure with the level of intervention not only from my organization, we will make a serious headway. HIV/AIDS is so devastating because it leaves the body susceptible to life-threatening infection. The disease is contracted through oral, anal or vaginal sex, and from an HIV-positive mother to her baby. That is the reason we have been engaging people on the use of condom anytime they have sexual intercourse.”
She said during their outreach programme in the township of Kenema, their dispensers positioned condoms at strategic locations across the city so that households will have access to them, especially those who cannot afford or access them easily, adding that they are providing daily counseling and testing at various clinics in the district.
The focus of everybody now, she observed, is on Ebola, which is why “AHF-SL has redoubled its efforts to embark on a massive sensitization on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS”.
Mariatu Kamara, a relative of an HIV/AIDS patient, commended AHF-SL for their support.
“I’m happy that such an organization is operating in this part of the country,” she said and called on the government to support the organization so that people living with HIV/AIDS in the country will survive.