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Liberia: partners mobilize towards universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, care and support

Joint UNICEF/UNAIDS press release

Monrovia, Liberia, 1st December 2009
– World AIDS Day is being marked by the launch of a four-day National Health Fair, where the focus will be on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in Liberia, and improve the treatment, care and support for people living with HIV. The
fair will be held from 1-4 December in Kakata, Margibi County.

With the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights,” the 3rd Annual National Health Fair will bring together representatives of the Government of Liberia, international and national non-governmental agencies, donors, community organizations, other partners and health
workers. Participants at the health fair will hold discussions on how to prevent the spread of HIV in Liberia, improve health services at the community and national levels, and devise strategies to scale up maternal, newborn and child health.

In Liberia, efforts to respond to HIV, particularly by preventing mother-to-child transmission, are showing positive results, but many children made vulnerable by HIV still struggle to have their basic needs met.

This year’s World AIDS Day and the four-day health fair are being organized by the National AIDS Control Program of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the National AIDS Commission, with technical support of the UN Team on AIDS.

UNAIDS with its co-sponsors, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations High Commissioner for High Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), World Food Programme (WFP) the World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank (WB) collectively contributed over US$25,000 to the events to mark World AIDS Day.

“This goal can be achieved only if we shine the full light of human rights on HIV”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement. “That means countering any form of HIVrelated stigma and discrimination. It means eliminating violence against women and girls. It means ensuring access to HIV information and services.”

Liberia has an official HIV prevalence rate of 1.7 %. An estimated 36,000 Liberians are living with HIV. Experts warn that if urgent efforts are not waged against HIV, the prevalence of HIV is likely to continue its upward trajectory, undermining Liberia’s development efforts.

Every year, an estimated 2,500 people die of AIDS in Liberia. The face of HIV and AIDS is increasingly young and female. For every HIV positive man in Liberia, three women are infected with the virus. The vulnerability of women is also affecting children since 90 % of children infected with HIV acquired the virus from their mother during pregnancy.

“Concrete actions can mean signification improvement on the front against HIV and AIDS,” said David Chipanta, UNAIDS Coordinator in Liberia.

“We can eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We can empower young people to protect themselves from HIV. We can stop violence against women and girls. We can protect drug users from becoming infected with HIV. And we can reduce sexual transmission of
HIV,” he adds.

“HIV and AIDS also puts households into extreme poverty and often without an adult capable of working and get an income to provide health care for the children, or to send them to school,” explained Isabel Crowley, UNICEF Representative in Liberia. “While we are scaling up health interventions, we also have to look into social protection programmes that will reduce the vulnerability to economic downturns for households living with HIV and AIDS and improve the well-being of children.”

About UNAIDS
UNAIDS is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations, bringing together the efforts and resources of the UNAIDS Secretariat and ten UN system organizations in the AIDS response. The Secretariat headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland—with staff on the ground in more than 80 countries. The Cosponsors include UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World
Bank. Contributing to achieving global commitments to universal access to comprehensive interventions for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is the number one priority for UNAIDS. Visit the UNAIDS website at www.unaids.org

For more information, please contact:
Louis Vigneault, UNICEF Liberia
Tel: +231 (0)6 923 174, Email: lvigneault@unicef.org

David Chipanta, UNAIDS Coordinator, Liberia
Tel: +231 (0)6 464 090, Email: chipantad@unaids.org

 

 
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