From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Demographic survey shows increase in HIV spread
By Aruna Turay
May 25, 2010, 19:44

 Information gathered from Statistics Sierra Leone has revealed that the 2008/09 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted by that national institution shows that an estimated 49,000 (Forty-nine thousand) Sierra Leoneans are living with the HIV virus, with 13,000 (thirteen thousand) children orphaned as a result. The survey also proved that in the face of inflating index of infected Sierra Leoneans, only 6,649 (six thousand six hundred and forty-nine) positive people have so far accepted to receive free anti-retroviral drugs meant to help prolong the lives of victims.

"That is why we are encouraging HIV infected persons to go for free treatment for which about 111 (one thousand one hundred and one) treatment sites have been established across the country," an official at Statistics disclosed on Monday. He also said that those who want to know their status must visit those sites instead of scaring away which will make the fight difficult.

"The national goal of establishing these facilities is not only to help prevent HIV/AIDS, but to as well provide treatment, care and support so as to mitigate the socio-economic impact on the nation and the sub-region as a whole," he went on, adding that to achieve that phenomenon, series of mechanisms have been put in place such as a national policy on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) which was developed and adopted in 2002, followed by a National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS in 2006.

He said in addition, a five-year National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan was developed and adopted in 2006 with guidelines and protocols relating to counseling and treatment.

"This was enhanced by the enactment of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Act of 2007. And to compliment this, Sierra Leone has also established strong coordination and implementation framework all levels to, among other things promote safer sex and healthy sexual behavior, improve the management of STIs, prevent Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), promote Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing (VCCT) and safer blood supply," he ended.

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