Feb 14, 2011, 11:20 AM
Stigma and discrimination makes it challenging in our drive to fight HIV/AIDS in The Gambia.
The commemoration this year is centered on the theme ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. The day is a reminder to us all of the plight of those living with the HIV virus, and of how we can be of help to them.
The day provides an opportunity for all of us to take action to ensure the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS are protected.
Globally 33.3 million people are still living with HIV/AIDS, and women and children are the most affected.
In the case of The Gambia, the national prevalence of HIV1 increased from 1.4% in 2007 to 1.6% in 2008, which is really a cause for concern, whilst HIV2 declined from 0.6% in 2007 to 0.4% in 2008.
These figures have clearly shown that concerted efforts must be put in at all levels to fight the disease.
Stigma and discrimination should be discouraged in our society, and people living with HIV/AIDS must be given the proper care they need by all sectors of society.
There is also need to encourage the people to undergo voluntary counseling and testing to know their status.
In The Gambia, the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is less compared to other countries in the sub-region. However, there is no room for complacency, since the fact remains that the figure of HIV victims is big for a small population like The Gambia’s.
We must, therefore, intensify our collaborative efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, and in supporting those living with the virus.
Even though significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS has been achieved over the past years, we must not rest on our laurels in fighting the pandemic.
We need to work hard in preventing new infections and deaths. Victims must have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
We must remember that stigma hurts too many people around the world.
“The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.”