By Mafugi Ceesay
Ousman Badjie, director of the National Aids Secretariat, has said that his office is to implement a grant from the Global Fund specifically for, among other groups, addressing the needs of people living with HiV/Aids and sex workers.
“One of the proposed interventions recommended in that proposal is related to addressing the needs of the sex workers in the context of Covid-19, because there is evidence that sex workers will lose income, after the closing down of all the premises they go to earn income. And one of the proposals is to incentivize the sex workers and work with them within the next two months and give them some cash to mitigate the impact of income they continue to lose as far as Covid-19 is concerned,” Mr Badjie said while addressing a press conference marking World Aids Day.
Mr Badjie further stated that The Gambia has tripled the number of people put on HiV/Aids treatment since 2012, adding that they have now embarked on treating patients once they tested positive.
He pointed out that if the community of people living with HIV are not engaged, there will still be lots of gaps visible despite all the resources. He said The Gambia started its HIV treatment when many countries were yet to.
Also, according to Mr Badjie quoting the latest country report 2018, the integrated Bio- behavioral IBBS, 11 percent of sex workers in The Gambia are HIV positive, which he said is high compared to the national prevalence which is at most 1.9 percent.
He added that according to the same report, the following is the Gambia’s HIV estimates as of 2018: Adults and children living with HIV, 26,000; adult aged 15 and over, 24,000; women aged 15 and over 15,000; men aged 15 and over,9300; children aged 0-14, living with HIV 1900;alduts aged 15-49 prevalence rate 1.9, women aged 15-49 HIV prevalence 2.3, men aged 15 -49 HIV prevalence 1.5, men having sex with men 35.5 HIV prevalence and 11 percent among FSW, female sex workers.
The report also indicated that 37 percent of the victims know their HIV status, whilst 29 percent are on anti-retroviral treatment and retained.