The Joint UN Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and South Sudan have launched a five-year strategic plan to halt new infections and deaths linked to the disease.
Lula Simon Lola, chairman of South Sudan network for people living with HIV and AIDs, said many people living with the disease lack access to quality medical care because of the economic crisis and insecurity engulfing the country.
Lola hailed the UN strategy, saying its speedy implementation accompanied by adequate funding will offer hope to people living with HIV and Aids.
“If the funds are availed, we can really meet the target of universal testing and treatment,” said Lola.
Everline Lato, who works at an organization called national empowerment for HIV-positive Women united, expressed gratitude to the UN and government for coming up with a plan to guide the country to respond to its treatment and prevention.
“We now have the direction to help anyone who come to seek medical advice and treatment will not struggle to get the required assistant since they will be guided by this plan,” said Lato.
Also speaking at the launch of the UN strategy, South Sudan’s vice president James WaniIgga told the gathering that the government is committed to fight HIV and AIDs but lack adequate funding.
“South Sudan is the most under-funded country in regard to HIV and AIDs programme.
“As a government we are doing our level best to finance HIV and AIDs intervention in the country although we have our own limitations,” Igga said.
Michelle Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, said the plan is to strengthen response to HIV prevalence in the east African nation.
“Today we are talking about 25,000 or more on treatment. Few years ago, we were having less than 30 people in treatment so this is a good progress.
“We will continue to strengthen our response to HIV prevalence in the country,” Sidibe remarked.
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 implement the country’s national strategic plan to strengthen the availability of strategic information such as aids indicators survey which we have not done since independence,”
South Sudan’s AIDS commission estimates a 2.7 per cent national HIV and AIDS prevalence while only about 25,000 people in the country are currently on treatment.