Capitol Hill, Liberia – In honour of the enormous efforts made by the UN to fight HIV and AIDS, President George Manneh Weah has issued a proclamation designating Friday, December 1, 2023, as World AIDS Day and designating it as a Working Holiday throughout the Republic of Liberia.
The Proclamation requests that all government departments, agencies, local, national, and international organisations, as well as the general public, work with the National Aids Commission to plan and carry out appropriate programmes in honour of the occasion.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, this year’s World Aids Day will be celebrated under the Global Theme: “Let Communities Lead” and the National Theme: “Communities Lead with Equality and Diversity to Elena Aids”.
The Proclamation emphasises that the government’s policies, as they have been adopted, are in line with the principles of raising public awareness of the threat posed by HIV and AIDS. These principles are in line with the recommendations made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to inform and educate the Liberian people about this threat.
The United Nations Joint Programme on the HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has declared the first day of December of each year to be World AIDS Day. It also encourages all member nations to carry out pertinent and suitable awareness campaigns in honour of the day.
According to the Presidential Proclamation, there is a widespread HIV epidemic in Liberia, with an estimated adult HIV population of 34,000 and a reproductive age population displaying HIV prevalence of 2.1% (2013 LDHS). This is despite UNAIDS 2021 spectrum estimates placing the HIV prevalence at 1.1%.
The Proclamation also reveals that there are notable differences in HIV prevalence across and within counties and regions. The prevalence of HIV is higher in urban regions (2.6%) compared to rural ones (0.8%). Out of the five areas, the sub-central region has the greatest prevalence (2.8%). Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa counties have the highest rate of HIV infection (15 counties total), and these three counties collectively bear over 70% of the nation’s HIV-related burden.
The release added that Liberians are a precious resource to the country, and the government recognises this by enacting and supporting policies that enhance citizens’ welfare, health, and well-being and so reduce the number of illnesses and fatalities that affect the whole populace.
The Proclamation further said that since the disease’s identification in 1981, AIDS has posed a significant threat to everyone’s health and welfare, including the people of Liberia.