Dec 12, 2008 Freetown — United States ambassador to Sierra Leone has said that HIV status is not a stigma.
June Carter Perry made this statement whilst pledging her country's support to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the world in commemoration of world AIDS day.
She said: "We should ensure that those with HIV/AIDS are respected for their courage to be open about their status rather than been shunned by their communities"
She said the nation should be gratified by what they have accomplished, but to also acknowledge that they are nowhere near where they want to be in terms of protecting young and old, treating those who need it.
"I am convinced that with their commitment and the support of the international community, they can eliminate stigma, treat those individuals already affected by HIV, and decrease in the number of people with AIDS in Sierra Leone."
June Carter Perry said despite the progress that has been made, the latest statistics from the United Nations and World Health Organization suggest that the overall rate of infection has been climbing continuously since 1990.
"As much as HIV/AIDS is an issue that evokes compassion and empathy, we must also look at the issue as it relates to more pragmatic concerns about national reconstruction and economic growth," said Perry.
• West Africa
• HIV-Aids and STDs
• Health and Medicine
• Sierra Leone
• United States, Canada and Africa
She said US Congress has authorized up to $48 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria over the next five years. Through that legislation, US will be able to increase the number of individuals being treated from 1.7 to 3 million people worldwide, and provide care for 12 million others.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alone has given over 17 billion dollars to fight AIDS through education, provision of basic health services, sanitation, and other projects through local NGO partners.
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