South Sudanese living with HIV hopes five-year plan will fight the prevalence

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] South Sudanese living with HIV virus bolster hope on the country’s new five-year strategic plan launched Thursday by UNAIDS to curb the high rate of epidemic prevalence among thousands of people in the country.

South Sudan and UNAIDS, the UN body responsible for combating the epidemic, launched a five-year strategic program in Juba with the aim to reduce the spread of HIV and to ensure adequate medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Lula Simon Lola, chairman of South Sudan network for people living with HIV/AIDS, said many people living with the virus like himself lack access to medical care because of the economic crisis and insecurity across the nation. He stressed that if the plan has enough funding it can help thousands of HIV-infected people to receive treatment timely and appropriately.

“If the funds are there, we can really meet the target of 9090 but we have to see that everybody knows its status. 90 people know their status and 90 know their treatment. The best way is if we have the money, “Lola said.

Everline Lato, works at a local organization called National Empowerment for HIV-positive Women United. She expressed gratitude to the UN and the government for coming up with the device plan to guide the country to respond to the epidemic treatment and prevention.

“We now have the direction to help anyone who comes to seek medical advice and treatment. They will not struggle to get the required assistant since they will be guided by this plan,” said Lato.

Speaking during the five-year plan launched, South Sudan’s vice president, James Wani Igga, told the gathering that the government is committed to fight HIV/AIDS but lack adequate funding.

“South Sudan is the most under funding country regarding the HIV/AIDS program. As a government, we are doing our level best to finance HIV/AIDS intervention in the country although we have our own limitations,” Igga said.

The Undersecretary and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michelle Sidibe, said the plan is to strengthen our response to HIV prevalence in this east Africa young nation.

“Today we are talking about 25,000 or more on treatment. A few years ago, we had less than 30 people in treatment, so this is a good turn-around. We will continue to strengthen our response to HIV prevalence in the country,” said Sidibe.

South Sudan’s national AIDS Commission chair, Estereno Novello, said the government recognized HIV as one of the most formidable challenges in the country.

“I urge the UNAIDS leadership to advocate for an increase of resources to enable us to implement the country’s national strategic plan to strengthen the availability of strategic information such as the AIDS indicator survey which we have not done since independence.”

South Sudan AIDS commission estimates that the national prevalence among the country’s 12 million population is 2.7 pct. Of the more than two hundred thousand believed to be living with HIV virus, only about 25,000 are said to be receiving treatment. South Sudan’s HIV/AIDS commission said they estimate that more than two hundred people lived with HIV/AID in South Sudan. South Sudan health officials however don’t know how many people have died from the disease in the country.

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