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Aids Commission Trains Stakeholders

By Precious D. Freeman

The National Aids Commission, in collaboration with its partners, has begun a two-day stakeholders training on the understanding of stigma, discrimination and the advocacy.

The training, which was held at the Ellen Johnson Ministerial Complex yesterday, brought together several media practitioners, religious and traditional leaders, law enforcement, youth organizations, finance and resource institutions, among others.

Speaking at the opening of the training, the Aids Commission of Liberia chairperson, Theodosia Kolee, explained that the pre-conference workshop aimed to create awareness and improve the understanding of stigma discrimination and violence, and how they affect PLHIV and key populations in Liberia.

According to her, this will be achieved through provision of understanding of the issue to stakeholders that are not familiar with the HIV response or the promotion and protection of human rights for PLHIV and key populations.

She added that stigma remains a major challenge in Liberia, and that there is a need for free testing and resting centers, in order to avoid stigmatization.

“In Liberia, especially for members of the key population groups, resulting in increased number of PLHIV who experienced interruption in treatment and chose not to follow up. According to people living with HIV stigma index study 2.0 reports published in 2022, 90.6 percent of male and 87.2 percent of female respondents reported that it was difficult to tell people about their HIV status,” she said.

Madam Kolee maintained that 52.2 percent of respondents who had stopped, or interrupted treatment, stated that the main reason for these actions was the worry that someone would find out about their status.

The National Aids Commission Boss emphasized that similarly, stigma, discrimination, and violence on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, or drug use, remain common. “According to the 2018 IBSS reports, regular verbal abuse or physical violence for engaging in what is considered as immoral behavior was reported by 70.4 percent of MSM, FSW 32.7 percent and PWID 5.6 percent.”

“Over 15 percent of MSM 15.8 percent  and 25.7 percent  of transgender confessed that they had been beaten, 11.9 percent of MSM and 35.4 percent  of trans gender reported experiencing verbal harassment, 6.7 percent of MSM and 20.3 percent of transgender have been blackmailed for their sexual orientation and 6 percent of MSM and 18.6 percent  of transgender have been bullied,” she explained.

Meanwhile, she appreciated all her partners for their usual contribution towards the Commission and hopes that it continues.

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