Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- Participants at a just-ended workshop on HIV/AIDS here have recommended incentives for the formation of an association of People Living With Aids (PLWA).
They want the government to provide salary support and anti-retroviral drugs and other protection for the first 10 infected persons who come forward to form the association.
The participants are also calling for community-based support structures to be set up for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The recommendations come at the end of a three-day national representative workshop that ended Thursday and brought together over 300 participants from all sectors of the Liberian society.
It was a follow-up to the African Development Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2000, which called on all countries to strategize against HIV/AIDS.
There is no group in Liberia representing people living with HIV/AIDS, apparently due to the stigma people place on sufferers of the incurable syndrome.
HIV prevalence in Liberia as of 1998 was 8.
2 percent of the nearly three million population, with the male to female ratio of distribution of AIDS set at 1:3.
Eighty percent of all AIDS patients diagnosed in Liberia fall within the age range of 20-39 years, while the case distribution by occupation shows the security officers, housewives and petty traders accounting for over 60 percent.
The workshop also recommended the establishment of a broad base policy framework to include legislation that will address the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS at the individual, family, community and national levels.
It called for a "strong political commitment," including the setting up of a unit in the president's office to co-ordinate HIV/AIDS activities at the highest level, while the president must make regular pronouncements on issues of HIV/AIDS, its prevention and management.
The participants said traditional leaders must seek to discourage harmful cultural beliefs and practices, including female genital mutilation, wife inheritance, cultural and institutional violence and forced and early marriages.
They want the HIV/AIDS surveillance system and database to be strengthened for national and international utilisation, while national and international multi-sectoral partnership is fostered.
The 15-count recommendation touched on a wide range of other issues such as the teaching of sex education in schools, support for youth groups targeting HIV/AIDS awareness, appropriate budgetary allotment for the pandemic, care of HIV/AIDS orphans and maximum sensitisation about the menace.
The Liberian government, with support from the UN Country Theme Group of HIV/AIDS, organised the workshop.