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Julia Duncan CassellA fact sheet released Monday, December 1, 2014 at celebration of this year's World AIDS Day has indicated that an estimated 711 cases of men having sex with men (MSM).

 

According to the fact sheet, HIV prevalence is 19.8 percent and about 80 percent is between the ages 20-34 years.

About 4.7 percent of gay men are legally married, while 20.7 percent reported condoms use during last sexual intercourse with a paying sexual partner.

The fact sheet further indicates that about 52 percent of men having sex with men reported having first sex with other men at 20 years.

“18.4% of MSM reported to have been forced to have sex without a condom; 24.5% of MSM reported ever been threatened by the police”, the fact sheet released.

Additionally, the fact sheet disclosed that in 2013 almost 60 percent of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15-24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.

The report noted that AIDS related illnesses are the leading cause of death among adolescents age ranging from 10-19 years in Africa, while gay men are 19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.

“HIV prevalence among sex workers is 12 times greater than among the general population, while transgender women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than all adults of reproductive age,” the fact sheet said.

According to the statistics, women in Liberia represent nearly 60 percent of adults living with HIV while women and girls have a higher HIV prevalence than male peers in nearly every age group except in the age group of 20-24 with men higher at 2.9 percent.

Speaking at the program, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Julia Duncan Cassel said women and girls are worse affected by HIV with a prevalence rate of 2.4 percent which is higher than the prevalence among men estimated at 1. 8 percent.

According to her, the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease has impacted adversely on the health system in general and the national AIDS response in particular.

She said Liberia has lost some of its brilliant physicians who were at the frontline of the national HIV treatment program due to Ebola.

For her part, Liberia's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn said 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, while 90 percent of people who know their HIV status are on treatment.

She said AIDS remains a social and public health problem in Africa but acknowledged that despite the burden of the pandemic, the continent has made tremendous gains.

However, she said more needs to be done to stop stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

She lauded the National AIDS Control Program and its partners in the fight against HIV and AIDS for efforts made in the provision of high quality care, treatment and support services throughout the country with 90 percent funding coming from the Global Fund.