On World AIDS Day (December 1) 2009, AHF agreed to support treatment and prevention efforts spearheaded by the country’s National AIDS Secretariat (NAS). Following AHF Sierra Leone’s support of testing 28,000 people for HIV on World AIDS Day 2010, NAS invited AHF to establish a more permanent presence in Sierra Leone. In April 2011, AHF donated US$10,000 toward the renovation of the National Reference Laboratory, the only laboratory of its kind in the country. That following July, AHF was formally registered as an International Non-government Organization (INGO) supporting the Sierra Leonean government in providing free HIV/AIDS treatment and care, becoming the first INGO to provide ART in the country.
In 2012, AHF Sierra Leone opened its first clinic in the country, the Jenner Wright Clinic in Freetown. That year, AHF Sierra Leone also supported free HIV testing for 46,559 people, including pregnant women. A second clinic, the Waterloo clinic, was subsequently added to AHF Sierra Leone’s sites, allowing them to serve more than 600 people between those two clinics alone and average 30 HIV tests per day. In 2013, 127,601 people were tested for HIV through AHF Sierra Leone. Additional service offerings include: free medications for opportunistic infections, free diagnostic tests and X-rays, and CD4 results determining the severity of one’s infection within 24 hours of testing positive. In addition to care from local experts, AHF Sierra Leone provides free condoms within health facilities, through strategically placed condom dispensers, and during weekly community outreach efforts, as well as national events like International Condom Day in mid-February, which AHF Sierra Leone led the country’s first celebration of in 2013. Approximately 1,489,248 free condoms were distributed countrywide in 2013.
The HIV epidemic in Sierra Leone is not isolated to any single community, but is rather mixed, generalized, and heterogeneous affecting different population subgroups. A 2013 report from the United Nation Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 58,000 Sierra Leoneans are living with HIV, 6,000 of which are children under the age of 14. However, the country’s epidemic is being rigorously battled with moderate success, as a 2012 report from the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) shows: antiretroviral treatment (ART) is provided through all district hospitals and many public health clinics, totaling 130 ART sites countrywide. The report stated that the treatment rate for adults and children rose from 33% in 2010 to 52% in 2012, and treatment among HIV-positive pregnant women increased dramatically from 47% in 2011 to 96% in 2012. The survival rate among people living with HIV also showed a marked increase, from 83% in 2010 to 92.6% in 2012.