From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, New Message To Combat HIV/AIDS Unveiled
By Augustine Samba
Apr 14, 2010, 17:32

All Partners in HIV Work (PHW) with support from Christian Aid, UNAIDS, NAS and other organizations including the Ministry of Health and Sanitation have officially launched the HIV and AIDS, SAVE message on Monday 12th April 2010 at the Thompsonian Illusion Hall at Syke Street in Freetown.

The SAVE message is a comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS response and helps to eradicate stigmatization of persons living with HIV and encourages them to take the necessary approach.

Partners fighting against HIV have realized that, the ABC which means ‘Abstain, Be faithful, and use Condom’ was being misunderstood by many people as meaning that they should abstain from sex and condom as the last resort to contract HIV/AIDS.

The Partners noted the inadequacies in the ABC message and have now replaced it with the new SAVE message: S - Safer practices which include ABC universal precautions etc; A - Available medication; V - VCC and E - Empowerment through education.

In his statement, the National Coordinator of the Network of HIV Positive in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS), Mr. Idrissa Songo, on behalf of 5 other partners including the Association for Rural Development (ARD), Methodist Church - Sierra Leone, PLHA – project, (MCSL-PLHA), Methodist Youths Research Centre (MYRC), Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), Relief Development Agency (RADA), said the SAVE message with committed partners will help to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country, whilst noting that it will reduce the prevalence of new infections.

He further disclosed that in 2003, a group of religious leaders from different faiths led by Canon Gideon Byamugisha started the Africa Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by AIDS (ANERELA). During their discussions, they adopted the SAVE message, he said, adding that they started using the SAVE message as far back as 2006 and that the SAVE message has received approval from Parliament, the President of Sierra Leone, the National AIDS Secretariat and donor partners. He appealed to all stakeholders including Civil Society organizations, NGOs, the government’s international partners and individuals to adopt and use the SAVE message nationally.

The Programme Manager of NAS, Dr. Momodu Sesay, applauded the efforts of partners of HIV/AIDS. He said the campaign on HIV and AIDS demands accurate, precise and harmonized messages which are aimed at adopting positive behavioral change. He further said NAS alone cannot fight HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone and therefore needs the collaborative support of other partners including national and international organizations.

Furthermore, he disclosed that the SAVE message has already been adopted by other governments including the DRC and Zimbabwe and is currently enacted in their HIV and AIDS national strategic plans.

He thanked NETHIPS, Christian Aid and other partners for implementing government’s efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Other organizations including UNAIDS, SLANGO, Human Rights and Civil Society organizations and Christian Aid also made assurance speeches on adopting the SAVE message. The SAVE message would also be launched in the provinces.

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