AHF, SLAJ partner to fight HIV/AIDS

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November 27, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

AHF
Country Programme Manager AHF-SL Miata Jambawai

The Aids Healthcare Foundation Sierra Leone (AHF-SL) and National HIV and Aids Secretariat (NAS) have partnered with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and its affiliate bodies to help raise awareness on HIV and Aids across the country.

Speaking last Friday, November 23,  during the key milestone 2018 celebration and partnership dinner at the New Brookfields Hotel, Country Programme Manager of AHF-SL, Miata Jambawai, stated that the foundation was founded in 1987 as a grassroots Los-Angeles-based group committed to “fight for the living and care for the dying.”

She said they have operated in the country for some five years now, but noted that most people know very little about them and their operations, hence they decided to partner with the media in 2019.

She explained that AHF is based in the United States, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, adding that they are the world’s largest community-based provider of HIV care and treatment that currently serves over 1,000,000 clients worldwide.

Ms. Jambawai said AHF shares its healthcare systems and expertise with resource-poor settings throughout the world, and that they currently operate in 42 countries worldwide, 13 in Africa, 12 in the Americas 9 in Asia, and 8 in  Europe.

She disclosed that AHF registered in Sierra Leone in July 2011 as an International Non-governmental Organisation (INGO) to support government in providing free HIV and AIDS care and treatment, adding that it was the first INGO to provide antiretroviral treatment in the country.

She maintained that currently AHF supports 18 treatment sites and two Health Team Corporation sites with about 12,800 (49% of 26,203 clients) as at November  13, and that all services are free and provided by local experts, with the 2018 annual operational budget being $1.3 million.

Country Director for UNAIDS, Dr. Michael F. Gboun, remarked that it was very encouraging to learn that AHF has registered one million people globally, adding that the orgnisation is a trusted partner to the United Nations family.

He disclosed that 36.9 million people were living with HIV and Aids globally, while Sierra Leone has recorded 61,000 people living with the virus.

He said AHF currently takes care of 47% of the 61,000 Sierra Leoneans living with the virus.

He called on people to be conducting regular test in order to know their HIV status, which according to him, is very important with many advantages.

He noted that the HIV test is a human right issue and that health workers are on oath to protect testers.

Also speaking, President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Kelvin Lewis, stated that he was very grateful to be part of the event and that he was committed to partnering with AHF to promote awareness around HIV and Aids across the country.

He noted that in his determination to promote awareness around HIV and Aids, he attended the event with other media organisations, including the Guild of Newspaper Editors, Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU), and Women in the Media (WIMSL).

In his presentation, Director General of National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), Alhaji Dr. Momodu Sesay, said HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Sierra Leone is estimated at 61,000, with only 47% of the said figure knowing their status.

He said about 26,000 patients are on treatment.

He called on the media to help in educating the public to go for free test in order to know their HIV status, and noted that December 1 every year they join the world to celebrate World HIV and Aids day.