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No new HIV infection by 2015

By Kenneth Thompson

Deputy Director of the National AIDS Secretariat has declared in Freetown that by 2015 there will be no more reported cases of new HIV infections in Sierra Leone, with a current infection rate of 1.5%.

Abdul Rahman Sesay told journalists at their King Herman Road offices that “this forecast is based on the fact that the international community has identified Sierra Leone as one of the countries in West Africa that could eliminate HIV by 2015. That is now our target”.

He added that the country had reached most of the benchmarks set aside to meet the target as indicative in the current infected rate of 1.5 and the fact that it had stabilized.

Mr. Sesay said for this year’s celebration of World AIDS Day on December 2, they would test 80,000 people countrywide. Although he agreed that their 2015 goal of eliminating AIDS in the country would be very difficult to achieve, he expressed optimism that with all the activities planned, they would definitely achieve it.

He, however, appealed that more donor funds be committed to the fight against AIDS, adding that “scaling down of funds now will only weaken the fight against this deadly disease”.

He assured that for this year’s celebration they would revise their strategic plans by putting money where they were sure of creating more impact. The AIDS secretariat commenced their national testing and condom distribution campaign on 26 November which would end on 2 December.

Country programme manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation Sierra Leone, Miata Jambawai, encouraged people to come forward and be tested as their status would always be protected.

She added that those who were positive should go for regular treatments to reduce the spread of the virus in their body.

She explained that there was evidence to prove that life expectancy among people living with HIV, but who were regular with their treatments, had considerably improved.

“We should expect more improvements for patients starting their antiretroviral therapy. On the 1 December we will organize a mass rally against the spread of AIDS, which will start at Vitoria Park to the fore-court of Miata Conference Centre”, she said.

(C) Politico 28/11/13