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Jammeh Reaffirms Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Dec 2, 2009, 1:16 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Gambian leader, President Yahya Jammeh has reaffirmed his government's commitment in the fight against the scourges of HIV/AIDs.

Jammeh made these remarks on the occasion marking the celebration of the World Aids Day, at Buffer Zone in Tallinding.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Aboubacarr Gaye, who read the President's message on his behalf, said in sub-Saharan Africa alone the epidemic has orphaned 12 million children, aged less than 18 years.

Speaking on the theme "Universal Access and Human Rights," President Jammeh said the natural age distribution in many national populations in the sub-Saharan Africa has been dramatically skewed by HIV, with potentially consequences for the transfer of knowledge and values from one generation to another.

Jammeh said the day initiated by the UN systems and the world at large, was meant to focus on global awareness of the pandemic and generate positive action to stop the spread of HIV and eradicate AIDs.  Such a focus, he went on, is required to bring to the fore issues that are of great importance to us as individuals, nations, regions and international responses. He said World Aids Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education.

According to him, this year's theme was important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.

According to UNAIDS estimates, President said there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children, while during 2007 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus.

He said "HIV is a threat to men, women and children on all continents", adding that 28 years into the epidemic today AIDs continued to challenge all of efforts.

According to him, every two people who start taking antiretroviral drugs, another five become newly infected unless urgent step is taken to intensify HIV prevention.

"We will fail to sustain the gains of the past few years and universal access will simply be a noble complex issue that demands for a concerted effort in response from all sectors of society," he stated.

President Jammeh said his government will continue to support the leadership role of PLHIV by fully recognising their values and involvement, noting that without the leadership of PLHIV universal access to prevention, treatment and care will remain a dream.
Jammeh stated that many religious organisations have made statements on their response to HIV and AIDs and have been strongly advocating to end discrimination and providing access to care for all.

Other speakers included Nuha Ceesay, Country Coordinator for UNAIDS, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe, Lamin Ceesay, the President of Santayala Support Society and KMC Mayor KMC, Yankuba Colley.

The celebration was characterised with a match-past of students and other voluntary groups within KMC.