A Liberian based media group, name and styled “Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN)”, in partnership with the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL), has alarmed that Liberia risks acquiring what it called rampant Human Immune-Deficiency Virus (HIV) including the contacting of the Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in few years, the group warned, if nothing tangible is done to properly educate young people on the danger the disease poses.
“Given the fact that out of the 36,000 people infected with the virus, young people account for the highest percentage and there is an urgent need that government specifically allocates funding in the national budget in mitigating its spread”, AAMIN sais. According to the media group, survey conducted in the country has proven that there has been no fund allocated from the national budget for HIV&AIDS prevention over the years, a factor the group said is seriously exposing the country’s vulnerability to the virus infection. According to the Group’s coordinator, Necus Andrews, Liberia has largely relied on donors’ findings and has not allocated a specific amount in the national budget for HIV&AIDS prevention as being done for Malaria and Tuberculosis over the years.
AAMIN’s Coordinator made the statement in Paynesville, at a one-day HIV/AIDS awareness workshop for 130 students from various schools on basic HIV&AIDS facts and prevention. Mr. Andrews also attributed the rampant spread of the virus among young people between the ages of 15-25 to the lack of proper preventive programs that target the country’s youthful population. AAMIN’s Coordinator also pointed out that the prevalent rate of the virus was high among young people due to their unsafe sexual habits and as such, the he indicated that the need to continue educating them was a critical challenge for the country.
“This media group believes that the country would be more exposed to the infection of the virus and the future of youthful population would be threatened, if the needed political will is not given,” the group coordinator said. He narrated that if government desists from relying on international partners and prioritizes the allocation of certain percent of funding in the annual budge for persons living with HIV&AIDS, he noted, it would enable the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Commission (NAC) and the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) to liaise with other institutions to jointly provide education for the masses as the World Concern is to ensure zero level of HIV&AIDS by 2015.
According to him, if Liberia must strive in accomplishing the United Nations “Three Zeros” Strategy for HIV prevention, he suggested the need for concrete actions on how best factual information can be disseminated to the public regarding the pandemic. Mr. Andrew said the engagement of the youths in making sound decision to prevent the virus is one issue that policymakers must not give lip-service to.
The Keynote speaker, Matthew B. Powell for his part, lauded the media group for getting involved in their fight against the spread of the HIV&AIDS virus in the country. The Communication Officer of the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) also indicated that the involvement of the media group through an organize body, AAMIN, he noted, is going to be counted among nations in the world that would be virus free by the year 2015. Mr. Powell then called on the workshop participants to avoid taking any form of risks that have the propensity to destroy their future and the future of Liberia.
“Liberia is in need of scholars, scientists and geologist, including more medical practitioners, to help improve the country economically and development- wise, among other technical studies, to bring about the country re-birth”, he said. He pointed out that the 36,000 persons living with the HIV virus presently in Liberia did not pre-meditate their sickness, but added that majority are faced with such challenge due to several reasons that are neither God’s will which caused the infection upon them. HIV/AIDS was first discovered in Liberia in 1986 at the Curran Lutheran Hospital in Lofa County, and since then, the disease has killed thousands of Liberians and cause untold sufferings for many person affected by the crippling illness.