Sierra Leone: 43,500 people targeted for free drugs on World AIDS Day

By Bai-Bai Sesay – The National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) in collaboration with UN Agencies and Development partners will this year commemorate World AIDS Day on 1st December with the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights” targeting 43,500 people for free HIV/AIDS testing and drugs supply.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday at the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat, Director of NAS Dr. Brima Kargbo said as winners of the MDG award, they are specifically targeting the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic; noting that they have drastically reduced the spread of the virus in the country.

Dr. Kargbo disclosed that pregnant women will gain access to the drugs as well as undergoing the HIV test to know their status. He noted that any pregnant woman who is HIV positive will gain access to the HIV drugs, adding that due to the government’s free health care delivery, every pregnant woman will have access to free medical care.

He said the MDG award for Sierra Leone has shown that the leadership is ready to fight the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus by 2015, adding that the World AIDS Day will be commemorated with series of programmes including live music and other basic things to foresee the campaign in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

UNAIDS Country Director, Madam Mulunseh Tennagashaw, said her institution congratulate the President and the people of Sierra Leone in the fight against the HIV/AIDS infection which, she said, has reduced drastically as compared to 1988 when it was discovered.

She said the World AIDS Day celebration will help the country to educate the high rate of illiteracy about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the discrimination against people with HIV. She called on the media to continue sensitizing the populace about the pandemic, noting that this year’s MDG award shows Sierra Leone’s performance in reducing the infection and the stabilizing the HIV virus.

Madam Tennagashaw said the leadership of NAS is really committed to the fight against HIV infection in the country, maintaining that the media should do more and more to reduce the HIV infection and the fight against the discrimination with people living with HIV.

NET HIPS representative, Arnold Macauley, said since the origin of HIV in 1988 various conferences have been held in UN and Africa; adding that there are still high levels of HIV people in the world.

He said UN and other Africa countries have waged a war against the HIV/AIDS pandemic by providing drugs to patients, noting that NET HIPS is another helping partnership to stop the spread of the HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone.