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‘Response people used on HIV/AIDS can best suit Ebola fight’

-says Deputy UNAIDS chief

NOVEMBER 13, 2014 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The response people used in combating HIV/AIDS can best suit the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease, according to the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Theme group on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Luiz Antonio Mateus Loures, who was in the country together with the West and Central Africa Regional Adviser for Community Mobilization and Networking, Dr. Joy Backory, to explore how they can join the fight, told newsmen on Tuesday (November 11) that the experiences of health and social workers in HIV/AIDS response could be part of the solutions to end the epidemic.

“We are in the country to see how the UN Agency can join the collaboration to fight against Ebola by using its experience gained in the past three decades in fighting against HIV/AIDS. The community should play a key role on the Ebola response,” he said and noted that even though there is need for more treatment centers and facilities, their effectiveness could be minimise without the community playing a key role to break the chain of transmission.

Mr. Loures suggested a change of attitude towards the Ebola virus disease as one of the strategies to end the epidemic and dispelled the notion that people would prefer being infected with HIV than Ebola.

“Let me commend Sierra Leone for having a very good record in stabilizing HIV/AIDS. This experience should be used on Ebola response. The best treatment for Ebola is to stop the chain of transmission and then the social aspect of it will then follow,” he noted.

The UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director called on the authorities and Sierra Leoneans to try as best as possible to bring down the fear and stigma on Ebola by creating a situation wherein people will be willing to come out when they are sick.

He shared the concerns of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on the impact HIV/AIDS might have on the Ebola outbreak and added, “We believe that these are two problems in the country that requires one solution.”

The team met with President Ernest Bai Koroma and Heads of United Nations Agencies in Sierra Leone, visited several locations in the country to get firsthand information and held bilateral discussions with development partners.

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