An alarming HIV/AIDS statistics in Sierra Leone was recently disclosed by the Senior Technical Advisor for Human Rights and Key Population, Amara S. Lebbie, during a media engagement at the HIV/AIDS Secretariat in Freetown.
According to Lebbie, there are over 81,000 individuals currently living with HIV in the country, with more than 22,000 not receiving treatment, posing a significant public health threat.
The event, supported by the Global Fund against HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as the Consortium for the Advancement of Rights of Key Affected Population (CARKAP), revealed that 11.8% of female sex workers in Sierra Leone are HIV-positive a figure that is said to be higher than the prevalence rates among men and other key populations.
Lebbie cited data from the 2019 Sierra Leone Demography Survey, stating that the national adult prevalence rate has nearly doubled from 0.9% in 2002 to 1.7% currently saying various key population groups exhibit higher HIV prevalence rates, necessitating targeted interventions to control the epidemic among them.
He said to increase testing availability, Self-Test Kits have been introduced, allowing individuals to test themselves for HIV and in terms of human rights, the HIV/AIDS Secretariat has developed a comprehensive strategy involving various stakeholders to ensure an inclusive environment for People Living with HIV.
Abdul Rahman Chernoh Sesay, Director General of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), emphasized the organization’s commitment to developing and implementing an effective strategic plan encompassing prevention, treatment, care, and the protection of human rights.
NAS collaborates closely with CARKAP to bridge gaps in HIV/AIDS response and reach all affected populations through a public health approach.
Sesay urged individuals to prioritize HIV testing and treatment, emphasizing the collective responsibility to combat the epidemic for the betterment of Sierra Leone.