November 26, 2021
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Director of Sierra Leone National AidS Secretariat, Abdul Rahman Sesay, has stated that cervical cancer is the second highest infectious disease in the country and that is very common among women living with HIV and Aids.
He was speaking yesterday at their Secretariat in Freetown, while updating journalists about the International HIV Day that is celebrated on every December 1st globally.
“This year’s world Aids Day, we really want to focus on cervical cancer, because it is the second largest disease in the country and data has proven that cervical cancer infection is high among women living with HIV and we believe it is our constituency,” he said.
He said before now, people were falling and dying countlessly of Aids but with the improvement in medication, people are now living long with Aids and more technology would help the situation in ending Aids.
He said they believe that Cervical cancer can also be treated if it is responded to early, noting that what they want to do is to prove to all Sierra Leoneans that to demonstrate that the HIV and Aids response is very critical, but it can also support the government to address other diseases.
He said they are using cervical cancer screening to see how they support the reproductive, maternal child health division within the ministry of health to address the issue.
He said they want to mobilize people living with HIV and Aids and screen them freely for cervical cancer and start to treat them before it is too late.
He said they would commemorate World AIDS Day with the theme ‘ending inequality, end Aids end pandemics.’
He said the theme is very relevant for Sierra Leone and for the global community, because the world is still grappling with the issue of COVID-19.
He said for HIV and Aids, inequalities are the driving force for HIV infections globally and since the SDGs commitment were made, the world has committed itself from the MDGs to the SDGs to end Aids by 2030 and NAS strongly believes that they need to address inequalities and other pandemics.
He said if they just focus on ending Aids without addressing inequalities and focusing on pandemics, the 40 years effort to end Aids will be a lost focus.
Also speaking, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Country Director to Sierra Leone, Isaac Ahemesa said they were at the beginning of the 16 days activism which started yesterday to the 10th of December, noting that the HIV epidemic in Sierra Leone is feminized and it is more of a women epidemic than men.
He said more women have HIV and looking at the Demographic Health Survey, the prevalence among men is 1.1 while the prevalence rate among women is 2.2, which shows that for any one man that contacts HIV, two more women will contact it.
He said girls are three times more likely to contact Aids than boys of the same age group between 15 to 24 years.
He said 30% of girls in Sierra Leone will become pregnant before they reach age 19 and the rate increases to 45% before they are 24 years, noting that if girls are getting exposed at that early age, then they are most likely to contact HIV infection.
He said women are made vulnerable almost every day because they are getting married at a very tender age, stating that Sierra Leone was ranked 18th on the world map of the counties that have child married problem.
He said the 2020 Rainbow Centre Report recorded over 3,300 sexual gender based violence and out of that number ten of the girls who were rapped contacted HIV infections, over 500 of them got pregnant and 2,200 of them getting sexual transmitted diseases.
He said almost girls rapped in the last few years are below age 15 and the national HIV prevalence in the country is 1.7.