Analytical summary - HIV/AIDS
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The first case of HIV/AIDS in Liberia – a female trader – was diagnosed in 1986, in Zorzor, Lofa county in the north-west of Liberia. This event prompted the Government of Liberia to establish the National AIDS and STI Control Programme as an umbrella organization within the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare with the mandate to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS in Liberia. Barely 2 years after its formation, the Liberian civil crisis unfolded. Little was achieved up to 2004, because the database was destroyed during the civil hostilities.
The National AIDS and STI Control Programme is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the provision of quality care and treatment and support services for people affected and infected with HIV and AIDS in Liberia. The major objectives of the programme include:
- preventing new infection in the general population and preventing mother-to-child transmission
- providing quality care to those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS
- mitigating the impact caused by HIV/AIDS.
The most recent report on HIV prevalence among the general population shows a prevalence rate of 1.5% among persons aged 15–49 years, indicating a low-level, generalized epidemic. It also revealed significant differences between urban and rural settings, with the primary urban area, Monrovia, exhibiting rates of between 2.5% and 2.9% and rural areas having rates of 0.8%.
Antenatal sentinel surveillance surveys conducted among pregnant women showed a prevalence of 5.7% in 2006 and 4.0% in 2008. To halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and its partners have expanded access by increasing the number of HIV counselling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and antiretroviral sites over the past 4 years (2008–2011). The number of sites delivering antiretroviral services jumped from 19 in 2008 to 34 in 2011, and sites providing prevention of mother-to-child transmission services climbed from 29 in 2008 to 230 in 2011 (Figure 1). The increase in service delivery points will improve HIV counselling services, prevention and control nationwide.
One in five young women aged 15–24 years and a little over one quarter of young men in the same age group report having comprehensive knowledge of AIDS. Comprehensive knowledge is highest among:
- never-married young women and men who have ever had sex (26% and 35%, respectively);
- those who live in urban areas (26% and 36%, in women and men respectively);
- those who are resident in Monrovia (27% and 37%, in women and men, respectively);
- those who have secondary and higher level of education (32% and 41%, in women and men respectively);
- those who are in the highest wealth quintile (29% and 37%, in women and men respectively).
The number of persons tested for HIV who received their result has fallen since 2009, owing to the limited number of test kits. In 2010, 192 202 were tested and provided with results compared with 78 335 in 2011 (Figure 2).
Condom use during first sexual contact is rare in Liberia. Among young people age 15–24 years who have ever had sexual intercourse, only 6% used a condom during their first sexual intercourse. Also condom use among persons with more than one sexual partner is low (14%).
- ↑ Liberia demographic and health survey 2007 (2.5Mb). Monrovia, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare National AIDS Control Program and Macro International, 2008
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Annual report. Monrovia, Government of Liberia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 2011