A two-man delegation from the UNAIDS West and Central Africa Regional office and headquarters in Dakar and Geneva respectively is visiting Liberia. Members of the delegation include Dr. Hugh Lago, Regional Advisor at the UNAIDS Regional Office for West and Central Africa in Dakar, and Dr. Catherine Biller from the UNAIDS Headquarters in Geneva. The main objective of the mission is to do a need assessment and design draft implementation and training plans to improve community service delivery and a differentiated model of care for HIV.
National AIDS Commission Chairman Dr. Ivan F. Camanor welcomes partners to the briefing meeting with the visiting UNAIDS delegation
During their one-week stay in Liberia, the UNAIDS team is expected to support the Liberian government and the UNAIDS Country Mission to develop a draft implementation plan for training of health workers/lay health providers on community service delivery and differentiated models of care. They will also help to develop a draft implementation plan to trace and treat people already tested for HIV and found positive but not on treatment. Additionally, the team, along with their Liberian counterparts, will estimate the commodity needs for testing and treatment over the next 12 months.
Welcoming the delegation to Liberia, National AIDS Commission Chairman Dr. Ivan F. Camanor admonished partners in the national HIV response to leave no one behind in fast tracking the response to HIV and AIDS. Dr. Camanor stressed the need to prioritize key populations, which include men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers, people who inject drugs, uniformed personnel, among others.
Speaking with parctners in the national HIV response during an inception meeting in Monrovia, Dr. Hugh Lago, a member of the visiting UNAIDS delegation, emphasized that in order for Liberia to reach the UNAIDS ‘90-90-90’ targets, the country should employ the same motivation employed during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and mobilize communities to seek HIV counselling and testing and treatment. The ’90-90-90’ Targets are a set of targets set by the UNAIDS to fast track HIV and AIDS interventions. It prescribes that by 2020, 90 percent of people will know their HIV status; 90 percent of those who are HIV positive will be placed on treatment; and 90 percent of those placed on treatment will have their viral load reduced.
Speaking earlier, UNAIDS Country Director Dr. Miriam Chipimo encouraged the partners to see the visit as an opportunity to leverage support for the national HIV response.
Highlights of the one week visit include presentations and discussions from various sectors working in HIV; visits to health facilities such as Catholic Hospital, JFK Medical Center, Redemption Hospital and Home of Dignity, which are offering various types of HIV services.
While in Liberia, the visiting UNAIDS team has been holding talks with partners and receiving updates on various intervention areas of the national response to HIV and AIDS. Updates were received from the County Health Teams of Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado, which are the three counties with the heaviest HIV burdens in the country. Presentations centered on the status of HIV services in the counties such as testing, counselling, treatment, PMTCT, viral load, supply chain management, among others. The National AIDS Commission also made a presentation on the ‘Catch-Up Plan’, a plan intended to scale up HIV services in Liberia, especially in the wake of the drawbacks experienced by the country’s HIV response due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Other updates included review of strategies for contact tracing of people who are tested HIV positive but not seeking treatment, and the mainstreaming of HIV into other sectors such as Gender, Labor, Justice and Security, among others.