An estimated 2.5 percent of Liberia’s population is said to be living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), key among which are sexual minority groups who account for the highest proportion of the infection rate, the National AIDS Commission of Liberia (NAC) has disclosed.
These people, according to the Chairperson of NAC, Madam Theodosia Kolee, need serious support and care if they are to live long.
The current population of Liberia is 4,899,686 as of Friday, November 23, 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
Madam Kolee told the Liberia News Agency in an interview recently that persons between the ages of 15 to 49 live with the virus, mainly in Grand Bassa, Margibi, and Montserrado counties, with Montserrado, which hosts the capital Monrovia, hardest hit.
Her comments come in the wake of upcoming events marking this year’s observance of World AIDS Day, which is celebrated on December 1 each year since 1988, to create an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and show support for people living with the virus.
The global theme of the event this year is: “Know Your Status,” while locally the World AIDS Day is under the theme: “Do Your HIV Test.”
Liberia will launch a sequence of events commemorating World AIDS Day on November 26, and on the next day, conduct awareness and testing at Ma-Kebbeh Gas Station and ELWA Junction in Paynesville, while the field testing exercise will continue in Congo Town on November 28.
Speaking on the events, Kolee said social workers of the Commission and partners will perform free testing on all beaches along the Robertsfield Highway on November 29.
“As we all know, the 29th (of November) is a big holiday which most citizens decide to celebrate on beaches, that’s why we are also carrying out the testing in these areas to ensure that Liberians get to know their HIV status,” the NAC boss emphasized.
Meanwhile, Madam Kolee has said the commission is working with the organizers of the impending Nigerian musician Davido’s live show at the Samuel Kayon Doe Sports Complex on the holiday to distribute free condoms to the audience.
She added that the awareness and testing outreach will be extended to the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia on November 30, after which the activities will be climaxed with a parade from the Monrovia City Hall to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS).
Kolee explained that President George Manneh Weah is expected to attend the official ceremony at the ATS where First Lady Clar Marie Weah is expected to deliver the keynote address.
The official said the NAC is resolved to strengthen its advocacy across the country aimed at ensuring that persons living with HIV have access to quality medical and social support regardless of their health condition.
“We also want them to have massive awareness to inform every citizen so that they can understand the impact HIV has on their individual lives, because if [you], as an HIV positive person know the happenings in your life, it makes it very easy to combat the virus as it is no more a death sentence,” Kolee said.