Koroma urges Sierra Leoneans to know HIV status

Freetown- Sierra Leone (PANA) -- Sierra Leone's President Ernest Koroma has urged all Sierra Leoneans to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as the World AIDS Day is observed in the country and around the world.
The President said in a nationwide radio and television broadcast Monday that the theme of this year's observance, ''Leadership'', makes it abundantly clear that "we are all leaders and therefore have responsibilities.
" "Leadership is not just about those in government or those occupying high offices.
It is about you.
It is about me and it is about each and every one of us taking responsibility to do something to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.
''As a commitment to putting a stop to HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone, I urge you all to go out today and get tested.
By knowing our HIV status, we can save many lives,'' the President said.
He described this year's commemoration as very historic, because it marks the 20th year of global efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS and to provide care for those infected.
''Today, we join the global family of nation states to commemorate the 20th World AIDS DAY and to highlight the need for continued education and the development of prevention initiatives to fight against the disease,'' President Koroma said, promising to ensure the low prevalent rate of HIV in the country.
Findings from the just-concluded Demographic and Health Survey in the country indicate a prevalence rate of 1.
5% in 2008, while sentinel surveillance of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics has also indicated a drop in the rate of infection.
"This is an indication that our epidemic is about to stabilize and the investments in the fight against the disease is paying off.
Our major challenge now is how to sustain and maintain this momentum," he said.
He promised that his administration would continue to deliver its promises to achieve a nationwide access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.
"This is a priority during the first term of my presidency so that we can halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone by 2015; thereby achieving the Millennium development Goals on HIV/AIDS.
This can be achieved if we are all united in the Campaign,'' he said.
An estimated 33 million people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, are living with HIV globally.
The World AIDS Day is marked on 1 December every year to enable individuals and organisations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.

01 december 2008 13:14:00

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