Ebola & amp; HIV – A Deadly Combination: A call for action for the HIV response in Ebola affected countries

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Ebola screening

Ebola screening

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) has killed over 7,000 people in four West African countries, spreading from Guinea to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria — in what the World Health Organization called an outbreak “unparalleled in modern times.” The sudden outbreak of the EVD has complicated the already weak, underfunded, and understaffed health systems in affected countries in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone. Data from the National Ebola Response Centre in Sierra-Leone indicates 2,630 confirmed deaths out of 7,696 confirmed cases since the first reported case in May 2014.

The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra-Leone (NETHIPS), the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Solidarité Thérapeutique et Initiatives contre le Sida (SOLTHIS), and National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) urgently call on regional development partners and international civil society organizations involved in HIV responses to support PLHIV and women & children networks in Sierra Leone to:

  1. trace and reconnect those PLHIV who have been lost to follow-up due to the Ebola outbreak;
  2. address the stigma and discrimination towards HIV and Ebola survivors;
  3. conduct HIV and Ebola co-infection survival research to understand the documented variance in morbidity rates; and
  4. document community responses to the Ebola outbreak.

Since the Ebola outbreak, civil society has yet to lend its voice in support to PLHIV in affected countries. ITPC West Africa Regional Director Mr. Sylvère B. Bukiki believes that civil society coalitions, including regional and international PLVIH networks, should be more committed in supporting the ongoing work of local partners to ensure the continuity of treatment, care and support for PLHIV during this period of the Ebola outbreak. NETHIPS National Coordinator Mr. Idrissa Songo adds that the experiences of PLHIV organizations and networks can contribute meaningfully to address other health issues beyond HIV, including Ebola. Such coalitions have marketed experience and expertise in community mobilization and behavioural change strategies that can help fight the transmission of Ebola in communities. For example, ITPC West Africa is currently undertaking the Stock Out Project, supported by the German International Cooperation (GIZ), to document the impact of Ebola on ARV stock outs.

In order to address the crisis of EVD, especially among people living with HIV, communities must be at the centre of the response. We call on partners and civil society to act now to combat this deadly combination!

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31