NAS: men, more than women afflicted by HIV

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December 7, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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The high table during the press conference

Director General of the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) Thursday told pressmen that key findings during their midterm review revealed that more men were affected by the HIV virus than women in Sierra Leone, adding that the high burden districts have increased from seven to nine.

Alhaji Dr. Momodu Sesay made the disclosure at the NAS secretariat in Freetown.

According to him, 36.9 million people were living with HIV globally, but only 21.7 people living with the virus were on antiretroviral therapy, adding that 1.8 million people were newly affected with the virus in 2017.

He said the annual AIDS related death among people living with the virus had declined from a peak of 1.9 million in 2014 to 940,000 in 2017.

The NAS Director said 61,000 people were estimated to have been infected with the virus, but that not all have been tested and knew their real status.

He said only 47% out of 61,000 affected persons in Sierra Lone knew their status.

Dr. Momodu  Sesay said 43% (26,000) of those who tested positive were on treatment, adding  that 29% of those on treatment have had their viral load measured, with 60% having already suppressed  their viral load.
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He said the prevalence rate has dropped among pregnant women, but mother-to- child transmission rate was still high at 8%, and that about 60% of overall health facilities were providing testing services, while 305 facilities were providing treatment services.

Alhaji Dr. Sesay continued that the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat commissioned a review of the 2016 to 2020 National Strategic Plan with the objective to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of strategies.

He said the midterm review looked at questions of what was the face of the epidemic in the country, what progress has been attained so far in the priority programme areas of the National Strategic Plan (NSP), how relevant, efficient and sustainable were the proposed strategies and those implemented, to the attainment of the 2020 (NSP) goals and others.

He said that moving forward they were currently working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to review policy and legal framework, especially in the area of right of testing children below the age of eighteen years.

He revealed that they would be using innovative interventions to increase testing and treatment of PICT, family testing and self-testing, adding that they were targeting adolescents and young people, fishmongers, bike riders and miners.