Network of AIDS Support Societies (GAMNASS), Friday held an advocacy forum to
validate its July 2019 International Treatment, Preparedness and Coalition
(ITPC) report at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) in Bakau.
The forum brought together GAMNASS networking partners and stakeholders to review and share ideas on the report before sending it to the ITPC headquarters in Ivory Coast.
ITPC West Africa is a regional coalition of people living with HIV and a community of activists. It was established in 2008 in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire, working to ensure universal access to care, treatment and any other form of support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and their strong involvement in decisions that affect their lives.
The Network operates in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo.
President Ebrima Sarr said the forum was meant to advocate and validate the GAMNASS 2019 July report on their collected data within three months. “We are here to validate a document on the data we collected within a period of three months. This forum is also meant to discuss and share ideas about the report before sending it to Abidjan,” he said.
Yusupha Gomez, chairperson of The Gambia Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) underscored the importance of the activity, saying that as members of GAMNASS network, sharing the report with a message for the health ministry is in the right direction.
According to him, sharing the message will help them as stakeholders to map out programming areas that they would like to drive from the findings of the research.
He hailed GAMNASS for their tireless efforts in working out the issues of HIV/AIDS in the country, noting that the forum is a clear indication that GAMNASS will be able to come up with an effective and quick response mechanism on the issue of HIV/AIDS in the country.
Momodou K Cham, executive director of Public Health Research and Development Centre (CIAM) said HIV affects a person’s immune system and destroys CD4 cells which is the white blood cells (soldiers) that fight off infections.
He added that HIV eventually causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which makes a person’s immune system fails, leaving them vulnerable to opportunistic infection that will make them sick.
According to him, there is no cure but HIV is treatable with medication, saying that HIV treatment is called antiretroviral therapy, which involves using drugs known as antiretroviral (ARVs).
Commenting on the fast-track target by 2020, Mr. Cham said at a time when the global response to HIV is accelerating, millions of people in Western and Central Africa are being left behind. “While the world witness significant progress with 57% of all people living with HIV knowing their status, 46% of all people living with HIV accessing treatment and 38% of all people living with HIV virally suppressed in 2015.”
He added that the Western and Central Africa regions are lagging behind, achieving only 36%, 28% and 12%, respectively in 2015.