The scarcity of reliable HIV-prevalence data in the country has made it difficult to get an accurate picture of the state of the HIV epidemic, an official of the NAC has revealed.
Juanita Ramirez is the Commissioner responsible for Partnerships who made the revelation on Tuesday at the Board of Directors of the NAC meeting chaired by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
Reading from NAC updated report, Commissioner Ramirez disclosed, among other things that, already there are over 33,600 people living with HIV/AIDS in Liberia.
According to her, the increments in the number of the people living with HIV/AIDS have increased owing to the cross-border trades or “as a result of transitional sex involving multiple partners along our ports of entries.”
This figure, she said, constituted 60% among the female sufferers.
Additionally, the Commission says 10,756 people need urgent treatment, while 6,592 are on the treatment.
During her presentation on the updates and discussions on the epidemic, Commissioner Ramirez named the impact of extreme poverty, vulnerability of young boys and girls in “transitional sex” and limited access to social services and income as some of the drivers of the HIV epidemic.
The NAC Commissioner also said the lack of low capacity of the system to deliver services and the high level of sexually transmitted infection are also among some of the contributing drivers to the epidemic.
She further said the high level of informal multiple and concurrent partnerships and low decision-making of women and girls are also responsible for the spread of the virus.
Discussing the generalized HIV infection rates in Liberia, Commissioner Ramirez said out of the 33,671 people living with HIV/AIDS 1,684 pregnant women are living with HIV, while 1,325 new HIV infections have been discovered.
The NAC says the overall HIV rate among women is higher (1.8%) than among men (1.2%), revealing higher vulnerability of women to HIV infection. Furthermore, the Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS) data of 2007 revealed significant differences between urban and rural settings, with overall HIV rates in urban areas at 2.5 percent (and 2.9% in Monrovia) against only 0.8 percent in rural areas.
The Commissioner however admitted that with support from development and collaborating partners, Liberia has made tremendous progress in its response to the HIV and AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support programs to unprecedented level.
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