AIDS Day Marked Amid High Concerns

Organized forces march in Juba during the marking of the HIVAIDS Day. [Waakhe Simon Wudu]

Hundreds of people led by the South Sudan Anti Aids Commission (SSAAC) gathered at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum to mark the Day.

Also present were the; students, activists, partners, and senior government officials.

Dr. Esterina Novello, the Chairperson of the South Sudan Anti Aids Commission (SSAAC) explained that the day is marked with efforts of renewing the country’s effort towards building a prosperous nation free of HIV/AIDS.

Commemorated under the theme: “getting to zero echoing the vision of achieving: zero HIV/AIDS infection, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS related deaths “ the fledgling nation according to officials need a lot to be done in an effort to fight the pandemic.

One person out of 10 people in South Sudan only knows their HIV/AIDS status, officials of the SSAAC said and discrimination and stigmatization still flare the fight over the disease.

This situation depicts high degree of ignorance by many citizens over the disease.

Lole Laila is a victim living with the HIV/AIDS virus pointed out existence of stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, urging that more efforts are needed to wipe out the practice.

“People living with the disease are being denied jobs after examination of their physical fitness,” Lole said while addressing the gathering at the Mausoleum.

Esterina said that, there has been increase on the number of people living with the HIV/AIDS virus in accessing free HIV treatment and care services in the country, saying the victims accessing the treatment and services doubled from 3,350 and 8,000 to 6,746 and 14,613 in 2013 respectively. However, it is still low compared with the national target of 80% of people living with HIV/AIDS to be put on treatment by 2017.

She called for massive efforts from stakeholders on the campaign fighting the minimization of the disease.

“We call for greater involvement of the youth; the religious leaders and the community leaders; members of legislative assembly and academicians to actively play their role in one way or the other in the response against HIV/AIDS,” Novello said. 

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