The Centre for Encouraging Caring and Supporting HIV People in Sierra Leone (CECSHIP S/L) has been officially launched at the Holy Trinity Parish hall in Kenema.
The ceremony was chaired by the Regional director of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), Benny Sam, who said “HIV is a serious issue as the possibility of spreading the disease is paramount in society.”
The supervisor HIV mainstreaming project Gold Ireland, Mohamed Edie Tarmoh Ngevao, disclosed that HIV/AIDS was a threat to security in the world to which Sierra Leone was no exception.
He pointed out that, “we can not achieve development without the present of human beings,” and that HIV/AIDS focused on human beings, stating that every one needed to come onboard and fight against the disease.
Mr Ngevao said, “Gold Ireland has thought it necessary that the launching of CECSHIP will minimize stigma among people”, adding that, “stigma and discrimination kill faster than the disease itself”.
In his statement Rev Joseph Fornah of the Emmanuel Stars Baptist Church pointed out that everyone in the society should be friendly with infected and affected persons, and called on all to give support to infected persons.
The Voluntary and Confidential Counseling and Testing (VCCT) counselor in the government hospital at Kenema, Gladys Gassama in her contribution, called on every one to go for the voluntary and confidential counseling and testing to know their status.
She said they were happy not only for the launching programme but for the people living with HIV and AIDS coming together to form an association to push their welfare forward, adding that, “it is a bold step in the right direction”.
In his keynote address the programme officer of HIV/AIDS at UNAIDS, Bockarie Samba, informed the gathering that HIV/AIDS was an exceptional disease and needed exceptional response in the society.
He maintained that, “there is great need to include all civil society groups in the country so that they will involve in HIV/AIDS response drive”.
The director of CECSHIP, George Massaquoi in his statement, explained about the formation of the association and extended appreciation to NMJD, CARITAS, UNAIDS, Gold Ireland, UNFPA and the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) for their various support and assistance to CECSHIP since it was formed.
A skit on HIV stigmatization climaxed the launching ceremony while pledges and donations from Nyaibu Ngombu of UNFPA and other humanitarian organizations formed parts of the programme.