A Sero-prevalence survey carried out by National AIDS
Secretariat (NAS) revealed an increase in HIV prevalence from 0.9% in 2002 to 1.5% in 2005. This indicates that in 3 years the HIV prevalence has almost doubled and with such a rapid increase, it is essential that care and support services be available to those infected with HIV. Before the establishment of NETHIPS, there were only thirteen (13) support groups in the country. Ten (10) in the Western Area and three (3) in the Eastern Region. However, these care and support organizations were struggling to co-ordinate and standardize care without an overall governing body. Many people living with HIV in Sierra Leone have suffered from much stigma and discrimination and feel powerless to act without the support of a larger body of people living with HIV to offer a united voice against acts of discrimination. As a result, many PLHA in Sierra Leone report losing their homes and jobs. Knowledge of HIV in Sierra Leone is limited and many IEC messages are still fear-based. These messages can lead to increased stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV. Stigma and lack of confidentiality of healthcare workers is a common problem.
Advocacy on behalf of positive people is a priority as public declaration of HIV positive status will lead to a change of attitude towards HIV. NETHIPS will work to improve the services available to PLHIV nationally.
It is in light of these issues that the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS), conscious of their identity and common ambitions came together to strengthen their efforts and inter-exchange relationship to better coordinate and improve their various activities in the country through capacity building and improvement of the quality of life of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHA) in Sierra-Leone. . Presently, with the intervention of NETHIPS, there are currently more than thirty-four(34) support groups established in Sierra Leone with at least one (1) in each district and also there are three (3) regional offices in Bo, Makeni and Kenema, which are now functional.
To improve the quality of life of people with HIV and AIDS and to reduce the impact of HIV on the lives of those infected and affected in Sierra Leone.
NETHIPS is working towards a Sierra-Leone in which all PLHIVs (People Living With HIV) and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) shall enjoy equal rights and opportunities, live productive and meaningful lives and claim their basic human rights.
-To act as a National co-ordinating body for all PLHIV care and support groups in Sierra Leone working in line with the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS).
-To build the capacity of the care and support groups of PLHIVs in Sierra Leone
-To advocate for the recognition of the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIVs) in Sierra Leone
NETHIPS in the News:
Links to articles about NETHIPS
1) "First Lady of Sierra Leone to Officially Open NETHIPS Office" http://news.sl/drwebsite/exec/view.cgi?archive=5&num=9574
2) "In Sierra Leone, NETHIPS Starts Solidarity Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS"
3) "NETHIPS Fighting to Combat Stigma"
4) "NETHIPS, UNAIDS, Christian Aid Hold Annual Meeting"