The Director of the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) Dr Brima Kargbo has said that the recent national Demographic and health survey report indicates stabilization in our prevalence; still put at 1.5% (an estimated 48,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone).
He added the same report also indicated that condom use is gradually increasing.
Kargbo said that condom social marketing started in Sierra Leone a little while after the inception of the NAS. Before then, condoms were distributed using our traditional channels, existing health facilities especially at Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) level, he stated.
He observed that, today, we have a host of partners working jointly to ensure that the objectives of condom social marketing is achieved, as much as the free distribution continues.
The Director disclosed that research has revealed that condoms when used correctly and consistently has 99% efficacy and offers dual protection; against sexually transmitted infections including HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
Kargbo encouraged all to visit their testing sites, to know their HIV status; 369 of these have been established to provide free counseling and testing.
“103 sites now provide free Anti – retroviral drugs to 5,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) in Sierra Leone”, he said. Pregnant women can also know their HIV status at the 362 Prevention from Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) sites located across the country, to help prevent transmission of HIV from Mother-to-child.
He assured their partners that NAS will continue to give the necessary support and lead the coordination process achieving a comprehensive condom use programming in Sierra Leone.
“Our challenge is clear, there is an urgent need for all of us to prevent a further spread of HIV infection and provide care and support for those who are positive as well as those who suffer from AIDS related diseases, such as TB”, Kargbo said.
The Director encouraged all to do more, as condoms remain the primary preventive mode for HIV through the sexual route, hence the importance of its availability, accessibility and affordability cannot be over emphasized.
By Abibatu Kamara