I bring you greetings from Kenya, a home to the first African female Nobel peace prize winner, activist and an environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o ( notable writer) and one of the best articulate lawyers Pan-Africanist, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba.
I kindly ask we take a moment of silence for those that have lost their lives to AIDS and related causes.
Asanti sana!!! (Thank You )
Today, marks the thirtieth day of remembrance of world AIDS Day – starting on the first of December 1988. The annual observance highlights worldwide efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Every first of December, we tend to take time to affirm our collective commonality with people living with, and suffering from, HIV.
This is a day dedicated to the memory of friends and beloved ones who are no longer with us as a result of AIDS and related causes.
It additionally reminds the general public and government that HIV has not gone away there’s still a significant need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Today we also pay tribute to the numerous health care workers, social workers and educators in hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages and in our communities who have devoted their lives to increasing awareness regarding HIV transmission, prevention and treatment.
It also a day that gives a chance to draw attention to the HIV epidemic around the world.
Globally, there’s an estimated seventy eight million people who have become infected with HIV. Despite the virus solely being known in 1984, over thirty five million individuals have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the beginning of the epidemic, creating it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. In Liberia, couple of months back, the National AIDS Commission announced there has been an increase of persons living with HIV and AIDS from 33,000 to 43,000 with the overall prevalence at 2.1%. It additionally disclosed that each year, nearly 2,900 new HIV infections occur whereas annual deaths stand at 2,800.
Fellow Liberians, This report shows there has been a slight increase in HIV incidence among the population. It sends a wakeup call to key partners, Civil society organizations who are within the fight against this deadly illness to double up their efforts. It further sends a wakeup call to the youth and elderly to stop the bias and engage in preventive measures.
As Nelson Mandela aforesaid and that I quote;
“AIDS is our number one enemy, this enemy can be defeated, while the research for a cure continues, four principles- love, support, acceptance and care for those effected can make us winners”.
Fellow Liberians, the past few years, the government of Liberia with the help of other NGOs and civil society organizations have done enormously well in ensuring that persons living with HIV/AIDS have access to ART and prevention for pregnant women. although there has been some issue of stock out of key HIV commodities at major health facilities across the county, however, we have seen reduction within the transmission of HIV from mother to infants. According to National AIDS Commission of Liberia “The fast decline within the HIV prevalence among pregnant women occurred at the time of speedy expansion of the HIV prevention interventions for pregnant women”
Fellow Liberians, we shouldn’t feel complacent, there still work to be done if we were to attain the UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy on achieving zero transmission rate by 2020, UN’s sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number three – that has got to do with ensuring healthy lives and promotion of wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030. If you’ll recalled recently, H.E Pres. George Weah affirm his government commitment towards the fight against “HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and major reproductive , Maternal, Newborn, child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) outcomes” which formed one of the four pillars of the Pro-poor agenda for prosperity and Development(PAPD). However, political will, appropriate planning and getting needed funds can be game changers towards reaching these goals.
Fellow Liberians, we have made considerable progress as a nation and as a people. We have endured and conquered one of the most deadliest virus(Ebola ) in this country. If we haven’t stood-up for anything in our lives, I believe the time has come to get up against this scourge that has taken million of innocent lives. how do we fight this illness in a more collective way? the only answer to that question is to know YOUR HIV status. Studies indicate that individuals who are aware of their HIV status are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior. The best gift that we can ever offer ourselves is knowing our HIV status. we should include HIV testing as a part of our health routine. we should take control of our life by requesting for a HIV test.
Fellow Liberians, everybody has a task to perform if we were to achieve the SDGs and also the 90-90-90 treatment target to end AIDS by 2030. We should not be afraid to attend the VCT to know our status, knowing our status may be a source of strength, not a reason for fear. The earlier we tend to establish our HIV status, the more that can be done for us by others and if voluntary counseling and testing isn’t available free of charge where we live, then we must demand it. There is no cure for HIV however once detected early there are medicines which will facilitate persons living with HIV carry on an extended sound and a contented life. Treating HIV early will diminish the viral load up to a level that it’s imperceptible.
Fellow Liberians, the health and growth of our economy depends on the wellbeing and capabilities of everybody. If we were to develop the economy of our country, we need people that are healthy and living productive lives. The epidemics of HIV, TB and non-communicable illness drain the economy of its most talented people in their most productive years.
To conclude, I would like to extend my profound sense of appreciation to all the people and organizations who are daily contributing to make sure that we are able to eliminate HIV and TB as public health threats by 2030.
Know your HIV status and keep the fight against HIV/AIDS alive!!!!!!!
About the Author
Melvin B. Moore is a Liberian, Researcher and a Master of Public Health (MPH-M&E) student at the Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology at Mount Kenya University, Nairobi Kenya. You can reach him on the following numbers: +254789355173, +254799869764 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org