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Published On: Tue, Nov 28th, 2023

National AIDS Secretariat and Partners Collaborate for World AIDS Day

In preparation for the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day taking place on December 1, the National AIDS Secretariat and along with its partners, are joining forces to create a powerful impact on World AIDS Day. Through collaboration and teamwork, they aim to bring about positive change and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

This annual event is used to remind everyone of the global effort to end the stigma related to HIV, honor the lost souls, and motivate everyone to keep working until HIV is no longer a threat to public health.

Speaking at the press briefing held at the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) office along Kairaba Avenue, Ms Adama Drammeh, the Director of NAS stated that every year, on December 1, the world observes World AIDS Day.

She noted that every year celebration, people everywhere come together to support those living with HIV and remember those who passed away from AIDS-related illnesses, “and each year, World AIDS Day has a specific theme, and this year, it is ‘Let Communities Lead.’”\

On World AIDS Day, she continued “We recognize communities and their crucial role in shaping the response to HIV and global health. It’s a chance to think about the progress we have made, raise awareness about the remaining challenges to ending AIDS by 2030, and encourage everyone to join forces to make sure the HIV response is successful.”

The NAS Director noted  that remembering those who have lost their lives in the cold hand of AIDS gives people strength to fight the disease and support those with HIV, “remember the importance of compassion, empathy, and solidarity in tough times. And also, the progress we have made in the HIV/AIDS response needed governments, communities, organizations, and individuals to come together with the shared goal of saving lives and changing the course of the pandemic.”

She emphasized that there are effective treatments for HIV with Antiretroviral (ARV) that suppress the virus causing AIDS and despite this achievement, she added that many new infections happen each year because some people still don’t know how to protect themselves, mainly due to stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

However, this year’s remembrance in The Gambia, she said, will take place in Brikama because it has a high number of people living with HIV, and “the date is moved to December 14th in coordination with the Governor’s Office, as December 1st is the day before the President’s meeting Brikama for the ongoing Meet the People Tour.”

Mrs. Sirra Ndow, the UNAIDS Country Director expressed that the UNAIDS is shining a light on how community-led interventions are central to enabling the end of AIDS as a public health threat.

She said the world can end AIDS, with communities leading the way because “communities connect people with person-centered public health services, build trust, innovate, monitor implementation of policies and services, and hold providers accountable.”

According to her, funding shortages, policy and regulatory hurdles, capacity constraints, and crackdowns on civil society and the human rights of marginalized communities are obstructing the progress of HIV prevention and treatment services.

This World AIDS Day, she reminded everyone, is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership roles while urging communities to lead in the fight to end AIDS by 2030.

Mrs. Mam Kumba Ndow, Program Manager of AAITG speaking on behalf of the Director of the ActionAid International The Gambia (AAITG) said the World AIDS celebration is international while she urged everyone to observe a minute of silence prayers to everyone that has lost his or her life to the pandemic.

She appealed to the media to continue creating awareness of HIV/AIDS through their respective forums and encourage people to go for voluntary HIV/AIDS counseling.

Mr Pa Ousman Bah, the NACP Program Manager gave a brief statistic of the figures as far as HIV/AIDS and treatment is concerned.

He stated that the HIV prevalence in the country is 1.52%, based on the 2020 national Sentinel surveillance. He added that only 51% of people living with HIV in the country have been diagnosed, which is around 14,000 people. Additionally, only 61% of those diagnosed with HIV are currently on treatment.

“The prevalence of HIV in this country is at 1.52% Based on the national Sentinel surveillance of 2020. And the estimated number of people living with HIV is over 26,000 people. But we were able to diagnose only 51% of them, which is around 14,000 people that we are able to diagnose, which is almost about 55%. And then, for those on treatment, we were able to put almost all those people who were found to be positive we were able to put almost 61% of them on treatment,” he said.

Mr Bah emphasized the goal of the National AIDS Control Programme to diagnose 95% of people living with HIV, put 95% of them on treatment, and ensure that 95% of those on treatment are virally suppressed.

“But as we speak now, we are far from the target of 95. If you look at the statistics is 55% for diagnosis and for the treatment is just 61%. So but we’ve been trying over the years, and now we were able to establish almost about 76 sites to help provide services for deploy HIV across the country,” he said.

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