HIV in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, a population of 6.9 million people, there are currently 51,000 people living with HIV. This is according to the UN Aids Country Progress Report of 2015. However, the number of people currently receiving ART or Antiretroviral treatments stands at 14,500.

Here at Magbenteh Community Hospital syphilis and HIV cases stand for the majority of sexually transmitted diseases treated. During the months of June and August 2017 our laboratory executed 235 HIV tests, with 15 positive results. Our HIV Counselling Centre was opened in May 2016 with its main objective to provide counselling and dispense HIV medication, prior to which any positive cases were referred the Makeni Government Hospital.

The number of positive HIV cases in Sierra Leone is extremely concerning, especially due to the recent statistics published by the World Health Organisation in August 2017 declaring the country to be the world’s most dangerous place to be a young person, aged between 15 and 29, the youth mortality rate is 671 per 100,000. HIV being one of the main causes of death.

During the recent Ebola epidemic, basic health services including treatment and prevention for diseases including HIV, TB and malaria grounded to a halt. Due to this reduced access to medication, an estimated 10,600 lives were lost to these three diseases across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

In 2016, the National HIV/Aids Secretariat set itself a target to increase the number of people receiving ART to 45,000 by the end of December 2017 in order meet Sierra Leone’s fast track target by 2020 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, after the disruption of Ebola.

HIV prevention services, such as the clinic at Magbenteh Community Hospital, are therefore vital in in supporting and rebuilding a robust health system for the country. The Aids Healthcare Foundation supplies the free ARV treatment and contraceptives. Currently we have 140 active HIV patients regularly attending the clinic.

Currently, Sierra Leone has run out of ARV treatment on a national scale and therefore treatment can only be prescribed on a two-week basis for patients.

David, the HIV Counselling Officer here at Magbenteh Community Hospital, gave his opinion on the matter: “I have seen great improvements in those who are taking the treatment and it has given many of them new found confidence. However, what is concerning is the instability of the treatment being readily available as well as the danger to patients for not continuing treatment as prescribed.”

Sexually Transmitted Diseases tested at Magbenteh Community Hospital 2016

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