Adult HIV prevalence is estimated at 1.5% (DHS 2008) whilst that of pregnant women attending ante-natal clinics stands at 3.2 % (ANC Survey 2010). An estimated 43,800 Sierra Leoneans are living with HIV out of which 3,700 are children between 0-14 years (UNAIDS EPP February 2012).
As at December 2011 only about 50% of the total number of health facilities in the country offer PMTCT services. However, the number of pregnant women (138,006) tested at ANC over the one year period increased compared to 2010 (112,455) of which 38.6% received complete course of ARV prophylaxis whilst 16% received HAART for own health. ART is provided in all districts hospitals and some PHUs with a total of 130 ART sites country wide. The number of HCT service delivery points increased from 426 in 2010 to 556 in 2011. 42.5 % of all positive cases received ARVs either as prophylaxis or treatment. (NACP End of 2011 Report)
- Population: 5.8 million
- People receiving ART: 8,115 (2011)
AHF in Sierra Leone
AHF began activities in Sierra Leone in 2009, when it participated in World AIDS Day events led by the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), a national body appointed by the President to provide oversight and coordination of all HIV/AIDS activities in Sierra Leone.
In December 2010, AHF supported the testing of over 20,000 people during World AIDS Day; as a result of which NAS invited AHF to establish a more permanent presence in Sierra Leone in order to support HIV prevention, treatment and care services.
In April 2011, AHF provided a donation of US$10,000 to support the renovation of the National Reference Laboratory at Lakka, the only laboratory of its kind in the country. AHF registered in July as an INGO in Sierra Leone to support Government in providing free HIV and AIDS treatment and care; the first INGO to provide ART services in the country. In December, AHF also provided financial support for printing of advocacy materials and media coverage for WAD 2011.
In December 2012, AHF supported the World AIDS Week national HCT campaign and tested 46,559 people nationwide.
AHF’s First Clinic at Jenner Wright
AHF started its first ART clinic at Jenner Wright Clinic, Race Course Road, Freetown in September 2012 and is currently collaborating with the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat, National HIV/AIDS Control Program and the District Health Management Team, Western Area to provide free prevention services, testing, treatment and care to people living with HIV/AIDS. Jenner Wright Clinic caters for all genders and generations in the prescribed catchment area (Race Course, Culbut, Upgun, Ferry Junction, Dan Street, BlackHall Road, Kissy Brook, Moyieba) as well as for people in other communities who are either referred, transferred or are aware and able to access the services.
HIV Counseling and testing is performed daily in the clinic with an average of 30 tests done in a day. Community mobilization and mobile testing (outreach programs) are done weekly with effective client follow-up by team members and volunteers to ensure linkage into treatment and care. To ensure effective community/mobile testing and reach as many people as we possibly can, we work with various community leaders and health animators to help in sensitizing and mobilizing communities. Clients who test positive during mobile testing programs are referred to the clinic or their nearest clinic of convenience to access treatment and care. We also promote condom education and distribution within the facility and during outreach programs.
Patients are currently referred to Connaught and Rokupa Hospital for CD4 tests and all pre-care blood tests are done in the just refurbished laboratory in the clinic. First line HAART is offered to all patients with CD4 count below 350 cells/µL. As at March 2013, the Clinic had 56 patients in care of which 22 are on ART.
International Condom Day
AIDS Healthcare Foundation Sierra Leone (AHF-SL) in collaboration with key stakeholders including the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS), Voice of Women Sierra Leone (VOW), National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS), National HIV/AIDS Control Program (NACP), Western Area District Health Management Team (DHMT), Reproductive Health Program (RHP) joined other countries globally to celebrate International Condom Day on the 14th February 2013 in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. The campaign was aimed at scaling-up access to free condoms as well as educating and making people especially youths aware of why condoms are so necessary and why everyone ought to opt for a safer sex. It also created an opportunity for HIV testing.
A press briefing was held on 11th February 2013 at the NAS Conference Hall and statements were made by the Country Program Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, NAS Director, UNAIDS Country Representative and HCT Coordinator of NACP. The IEC Coordinator of NAS moderated the press briefing.There was a float parade from Jenner Wright Clinic through some of the crowded streets of the east end of Freetown to Brima Attouga Mini Stadium where statements were made by the District Medical Officer, Reproductive Health Manager of Ministry of Health, Coordinator of NETHIPS, Vice Chair of Sierra Leone Interreligious Network on AIDS, UNAIDS Program Manager and Ms University of Sierra Leone. The key note address and official launching of AHF-SL was by the Deputy Director of NAS and the program was chaired by the PMTCT coordinator of NACP. There were short skits on the importance of condoms during the program by Happy Kids/Adolescents and Restless Development melodrama group. The float parade was led by Sierra Leone Police brass band and joining the parade were motor bike riders (Okada riders), different support groups, the military, police, community members, staff of NAS, NACP and Jenner Wright Clinic.
There were “Condom Flash Mobs” (mainly youths) who visited ghettoes, crowded fishing areas and markets during the day; and night clubs and pubs at night to distribute condoms and give health talks.
446,400 pieces of condoms were distributed (381,600 pieces of LOVE condoms and 64,800 pieces of UNFPA condoms); of which 50,400 pieces were distributed with testing and 396,000 pieces were distributed by the flash mobs and other partners.
1034 tests were conducted in the Western Area by five teams of 2 counselors and 1 motivator each.