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-UNAIDS Country Director Expresses Concern
An official of the United Nations office that has the responsibility to respond to HIV and AIDS said Liberia`s catchup plan to fight against the disease suffers setbacks.

Dr. Miriam Chipimo, in a meeting with journalists from Anti-AIDS Media Network Tuesday at her office in Monrovia, outlined impediments to the country`s HIV catchup plan as scanty tests, low treatment opportunities for people living with HIV and AIDS, including other key populations, health facilities not user friendly, and failure of state actors to properly use donor funds in priority areas as some of the challenges in meeting the catchup plan envisaged in the global target of 90, 90, 90.
“The treatment coverage is low not only in Liberia but also in the West African region which has a chronic mode of HIV infection,” Dr. Chipimo cited.
She added that in a willpower for Liberia to meet up with the catchup plan, UNAIDS has entrusted money to one of its international partners, Global Fund to support the country`s respond effort fight against the HIV pandemic, but there a number of things that are needed to be done right to ensure that this happens by 2020.
The global target 90, 90, 90 considers that by 2030 Liberia should have at least 90 percent of its population tested, 90 percent treated and 90 percent with suppressed virus load with no new cases of infection.
The UNAIDS country director said after assessing Liberia`s national strategic response to HIV, she noticed that the coordination level among stakeholders is so weak.
She used the occasion to encourage journalists in the country to focus more attention on the campaign to end HIV and AIDS, and to ensure that more people are tested, treated and care for.
“This is a call for Liberians to wake up and catch up with the catchup plan,” the UN official warned.
Dr. Chipimo cautioned that since 22,000 of the population of PLHIV are concentrated in Montserrado County and the rest 22,000 are spread out in the various 14 counties, Liberians have to wake up in order to catchup with the catchup plan by doing right things that they continue to do wrongly.
She further maintained that it is important that people go through the process of diagnosis, test, and treatment before going to support groups and not the other way around as has been done in the past.
“People have been going to traditional herbalists from and then go for prayers before ending to the hospitals or clinics,” she stressed.
Madam Chipimo indicated the importance to go in a new direction by packaging the test not only for HIV but also diabetes, blood pressure, eyes, ears, and other diseases to make it interesting because testing by HIV is not enough. “It is stigmatizing.”
According to recent findings published in the Guardian by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in West Africa, key populations engage in high-risk practices for the acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The finding added that available HIV prevalence data fluctuate across and within countries for both MSM and female sex workers and may be five to ten times as high as that of the general population.
“HIV prevalence varied from 15.9% in The Gambia to 68% in Benin among female sex workers, whereas it ranged from 9.8% in The Gambia to 34.9% in Nigeria for MSM.”
“Yet,” the findings pointed out, “important data gaps exist, including key populations size estimations in several countries as well as HIV prevalence, incidence and other biomarkers of HIV risk. Because of sociocultural, legal, political and economic challenges, exacerbated by a poor health system infrastructure, the HIV response is not strategically directed toward programs for key populations in countries with concentrated epidemics. Noteworthy is the low coverage of prevention care and treatment interventions offered to key populations.”
NCBI advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.
In the summary of the findings, sufficient planning and political will with legal and structural frameworks that reconcile public health and human rights are needed to prioritize HIV prevention, care and treatment programming for key populations programs in West Africa.
“HIV prevalence in West Africa remains comparatively low, with the adult prevalence in the general population assessed at 2% or lower except for Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria where adult prevalence is estimated at 3.4 and 3.5%, respectively. West Africa includes 14 countries, 3 landlocked and 11 with a coastline, with the majority purporting French as their national language. The epidemic in West Africa is deemed to be heterosexually driven, but recent data suggest that sex between men may play a significant role in the spread of HIV infection. Data from Senegal, The Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria indicate that a substantial number of infections occur four to seven times among men who have sex with men (MSM), many of whom also report having sex with women.”

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