Over 200,000 Infected With HIV/AIDS In Liberia
By Patrick K. Wrokpoh
USAID/Liberia, says more than 200,000 people in Liberia are believed to be infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.
Dr. Adams K. Lincoln said, using the total projection of 2.7 million with the current national HIV prevalence rate of 8.2 percent, more than 200,000 people in Liberia are HIV positive.
Delivering a paper at the official opening ceremony of the West African Regional Program (WARP) HIV/AIDS US Ambassador’s Fund workshop which is focused on project implementation and management skills among others, Dr. Lincoln attributed the high prevalence rate in the country to factors that spring up as a result of the civil crisis in the country.
He identified two of the problems as the exposure of the country to the heavy influx of people from countries with a very high rate in HIV/AIDS infection and the displacement of Liberians as refugees in countries with high rate of HIV infection.
Speaking further to a cross-section of participants from eight different groups among others, Dr. Lincoln added that a breakdown of the basic family support system amidst the harsh economic reality has forced many young girls to fend for themselves and become bread winners for their family over night, without any marketable skills other than prostitution.
He also cited the high unemployment rate which he estimated to be 80 percent while stressing that 55 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
However, Dr. Lincoln reasoned that the challenge to HIV/AIDS control in the country is enormous and has transcended the health sector.
He underscored the need for a multi sectoral approach to the control of the disease, emphasizing that all the factors that are destroying the social fabric of the country cannot be over-emphasized.
Earlier, AFRICARE/Liberia Country Representative, Mr. Jim Dean said the workshop will address HIV/AIDS issues which according to him, is a priority for the United States Embassy in Liberia.
For her part, the Public Affairs Director at the United States Embassy, Ms. Christiana Porch, said her office will focus and encourage the free flow of information as it relates to HIV/AIDS issues. She promised her support to the exercise and disclosed plans to work with culture groups among others in handling the HIV/AIDS issues.
The workshop is being facilitated by Mr. Tedd Ritter who arrived in the country recently from the United States, Madam Esther King-Lincoln, Mabel Kear among other staff of USAID.
Its aim is to train the participants in financial reporting, project writing and management, organizational building among others.
Eight local based organizations are participating in the workshop. They include Media Against AIDS, the National AIDS Control Program, Mother