Over 24,000 HIV/AIDs cases reported

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NAS Director General

April 17, 2018 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Director General of the National HIV and AIDs Secretariat, Alhaji Dr. Momodu Sesay, has disclosed that his Secretariat has recorded over 24,000 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDs), adding that over 45,000 people nationwide are living with the disease untested.

Dr. Sesay made the above disclosure while speaking yesterday at the British Council Hall in Freetown during the opening session of a two -day training of paralegals and staff of the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board (LAB) on the rights of indigents living with HIV and AIDs and vulnerable groups in society.

He said the mandate of the National HIV and AIDs Secretariat does not include legal and human rights issues, hence they were badly in need of an organisation that would handle that aspect.

 “Sierra Leone recorded its first HIV/AIDs case in 1987 and the number has over the years grown rapidly and we now have over 24,000 cases. Over 45,000 people nationwide are living with the disease untested,” he said.

He described their collaboration with the Legal Aid Board as ‘good’ as it would help a lot of Sierra Leoneans deal with their rights and limits stigmatisation of people living with the virus in the country.

Executive Director of the Board, Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, welcomed the collaboration and admonished her workers to be respecters of people’s private information in the course of their duties.

She assured that her organisation would work tirelessly to ensure that the fundamental rights of people living with HIV and AIDs are protected across the country.

In his presentation on basic facts of the virus, NAS Communications Director, Abubakarr Kargbo said HIV is the virus that causes HIV infection and that AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

He said HIV spreads through contact with the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of a person with HIV.

Kargbo said HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system, adding that without a strong immune system the body would have trouble fighting off diseases.

He disclosed that the national HIV prevalence rate is at 1.53 percent and that among the population, including male homosexuals 14.0 percent, female sex workers 4.7 percent, people who inject drugs 8.5 percent, prisoners 2.2 percent, transgender male to female 22.0 percent and transgender female to male is 4.3 percent.