President Ernest Bai Koroma has pledged the full support of his government in working to stem the increase of HIV infections in Sierra Leone calling on the people to talk openly frankly, and freely about the virus.
Speaking at the Victoria Park Saturday during the commemoration of World AIDS day President Koroma said “if we do not do anything sooner or later it will affect us and it will be more than the rebel war.”
The President pointed that inside 2002 0.9 %of Sierra Leoneans were HIV positive in 2002 to 2005 in three years the figures have almost doubled and in 2005 we talk of 1.5%”
“We do not know about 2007” he said but “if we go by this trend maybe we would have reached the 3% and for a small population like Sierra Leone with 5 million for us to have 3% is very serious.”
What is most important he said is that 70% of this figure is our own young people between the ages of 15 and 35 years.
“It is the energies, good health and hard work of these people that we depend on to transform this nation and if we expose them to HIV and AIDS we will be denied of their energy and it will limit our capacity as a nation to develop” he said.
This President Koroma said should show all of us that we need to come together to help fight HIV. He called on the religious bodies, civil society, paramount chiefs, private sector and public sector to show leadership, “show determination let us talk about HIV openly, frankly and freely.”
The President called on the people to openly go for the AIDs test to determine their status.
He pledged that his government “will join hands with everybody to fight against AIDs.”
He pledged further that under his administration “Nobody with HIV will be victimized or discriminated against”
President Koroma promised that those who have the virus will have the treatment they are supposed to have to live their lives like all other Sierra Leoneans.
Earlier Arnold Macauley an HIV positive man addressed the gathering disclosing that he has been able to live a fulfilled life even though he carries the virus. This he said had been possible through the provision of free anti retroviral drugs by the government.
In her presentation WHO representative disclosed that she had lost two family members to AIDS pointing out that “AIDs is real – we need to stop it by keeping our promise.”
The Defence Attaché of the American embassy spoke on behalf of the diplomatic community pledging their help in the fight against the virus.