As part of efforts to rejuvenate the national HIV response across the country, the National AIDS Commission of Liberia has launched a massive HIV and AIDS awareness campaign in Gbarnga, Bong County. The campaign was be preceded by a two-day HIV and AIDS training workshop which brought together more than 50 participants from community based organizations, civil society, county authorities and the Bong County Health Team. The activities are a precursor to the opening of the National AIDS Commission's Regional Office in Gbarnga, Bong County. The NAC Regional Office will serve three counties: Bong, Lofa and Nimba, where the Commission already has coordinators assigned.
Topics covered during the two-day training included Basic Facts of HIV and AIDS; History of HIV and AIDS Worldwide and in Liberia; HIV and Human Rights, and the HIV Law.
The HIV and AIDS workshop, held in the provincial city of Gbarnga, Bong County from the 25th to 26th of May, marked the launch of the HIV and AIDS awareness campaign. The workshop was intended to train people who will subsequently be deployed into the communities and districts to carry out the HIV and AIDS awareness campaign. The HIV and AIDS awareness will cover nine districts in Bong County. The districts include Jorquelleh One, Jorquelleh Two, Suacoco - Gbatala, Zota - Gbanshue, Salala - Totota, and Sanoyea. The workshop and massive HIV and AIDS awareness campaign are being conducted by the Youth Action for Education, Health and Development (YAEHD) with support from the National AIDS Commission.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop in Gbarnga, National AIDS Commissioner for Decentralization Jessie Duncan stated that these activities were part of the Commission's way of implementing the Government of Liberia's Decentralization/De-concentration Policy. In this vein, she disclosed that the Commission is in the process of opening a regional office in Gbarnga. Commissioner therefore urged the people of Bong County to take pride in this achievement and give the Commission their fullest cooperation in eliminating the HIV and AIDS pandemic from their county and Liberia.
For his part, Dr. Ivan F. Camanor, Chairman of the National AIDS Commission, HIV is no longer a death sentence as it was, and therefore encouraged people to do their HIV tests. He added that with early treatment, HIV positive persons can live longer and healthy. He thanked the organizers or the workshop and awareness campaign for their hard work.
Other speakers included representatives from women group, youth, traditional leaders, among others.
Recently, the National AIDS Commission along with partners launched the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2015-2020 which is the national plan to reduce HIV infections and ensure people already infected with HIV have access to treatment, care and support. The regional activities are in line with Thematic Area Number Six of the National Strategic Plan which relates to Community Participation, Political Commitment and Advocacy and Coordination and Management.