Monrovia – The National Aids Commission (NAC), through its Director of Communications, has disclosed an unprecedented increase in the number of persons living with HIV in Liberia.
According to Necus Andrews, at least 39,000 Liberians are currently living with the virus across the country.
He made the disclosure on Tuesday, January 14, when he appeared on a local radio show in Monrovia.
Mr. Andrews disclosed that out of the total number of persons affected with the virus, 22,000 are females while 14,000 are males.
He added that about 3,000 children have also been tested positive with the virus.
For too long, persons affected with HIV/AIDS have been persistently stigmatized by friends, neighbors and even family members in Liberia, he said.
This situation has compelled many people living with the virus to either live in secrecy or deny that they have contracted the virus.
But according to the NAC’s Director of Communications, persons that are affected or living with the virus should not be stigmatized or neglected because, “HIV is not a death sentence”.
He said efforts are being applied by scientists and the global community on a regular basis to advance treatment for the virus.
Andrews pointed out that people living with HIV, when they regularly take their antiretroviral, could live a prolonged life and it reduces the risk of infecting another person.
“HIV is like any other sickness or malaria right now; it is not a death sentence and people should not be stigmatized because they have contracted it.
“There are solutions now for HIV/AIDS; you can live with HIV as long God wants you to live. HIV/AIDS is not the worst sickness on planet earth. It is like any other sickness or health condition. It is a manageable situation right now,” he noted.
He continued: “We are now encouraging people to do their test. If you come here to do your HIV test and you know your status, and you are placed on treatment, it helps you to live longer. Before when you are diagnosed to be HIV positive, the next thing you think about is dying. But right now, scientists and the global community are working. Right now we have a treatment; it is not the cure for HIV. But it is now the treatment that suppresses the virus in your body”.
Andrews attributed the high number of females affected by the virus to the failure of men to do their HIV/AIDS test.
According to him, most men are reneging on knowing their HIV status. He noted that as for females, particularly those that are pregnant, it is mandatory for their test to be taken because they are carrying unborn babies.
“That’s the reason why most women have been tested. We want men to join the fight. If Liberia is to win the fight against HIV by 2030, everybody needs to come on board; even the men,” he stressed.