Liberia: Religious Leaders Vow to Curb HIV and AIDS

Monrovia – As part of efforts to curb the HIV and AIDs virus in the country, a three-day consultation of church leaders and faith actors was held at the Lutheran Church Compound, 13th Street, Sinkor.

The event brought together religious leaders, government officials, diplomats and civil society actors.

The theme of the three-day HIV and AIDS consultation of church leaders and faith actors was ‘Waking the Giant: Faith Community Acceleration Response to HIV and AIDS.’

Speaking at the event Tuesday, July 9, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia and First Vice President of Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), the Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo said it will be a great mistake for the church to sit and let the virus sweeps majority of the population.

According to report, 2.1 percent of the 4-million population or 43,000 are affected with the virus.

With the number of affected persons increasing, the stigma is a major problem for many who are affected with the virus.

“Our children are dying and we are losing many lives from this virus. It is not for any class of people, not even for the sinful,” Rev. Seyenkulo said.

The Lutheran Bishop added: “It is time for the Church to take on the fight. This is our fight.”

Rev. Seyenkulo frowned at churches and schools which are not spreading the message of HIV and AIDS in their institutions.

Adding, the president of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), Rev. Kortu Brown said the fight against the HIV and AIDS virus is a national fight.

Rev. Brown called on the National AIDS Commission (NAC) to step up on their games to make Liberia an HIV and AIDS-free country by 2030.

“The National AIDS Commission needs to get up from its slumber. The faith community is ready and what we need is your support. Let’s fight this disease because it is attacking us,” Rev. Brown said.

He also called on international partners to support their efforts in the fight against the deadly epidemic disease.

Also speaking, the US Ambassador Christine Elder recorded how the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention published the first reported cases of what would become known as AIDS, 38 years ago.

According to the U.S. Ambassador, as the epidemic exploded globally, particularly across the sub-Sahara Africa, the U.S. government responded with the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003.

Since then, the PEPFAR has had remarkable bipartisan support across nine U.S. congresses and three presidential administrations. “That, resulted into the saving of 17 million lives,” the U.S. Ambassador said.

“In Liberia, PEPFAR is now providing support for HIV education and prevention and quality clinical care in Montserrado County and through the Armed Forces of Liberia with a significant focus on population at greatest risk: female sex workers and their clients, as well as men who have sex with men,” Ambassador Elder said.

The U.S. Ambassador added: “We must all work together to make our collective support meaningful and to achieve our mutual goals reducing HIV and AIDS in Liberia.”

She also praised faith-based organizations for playing pivotal roles in responding to HIV and AIDS more than 35 years ago.

“Many faith-based organizations have been delivering effective, high-quality HIV services, complementing national public health programs in the most affected countries.