LIBNETP+ is the umbrella organization of individuals living with HIV across the country.
As per the organization’s constitution, only people living with the virus and have gone public with their status are qualified for elected positions.
Those elected are Josephine Godoe, President; Aaron Dennis, Welfare Officer; Zowolo Kollie, Vice President, and Emmanuel Adeayo, Secretary General.
Josephine and others are representing five associations under LIBNEP+ including Light Association of Liberia,EYE Association, Positive Living Association and ALL+.
In her induction speech, Madam Josephine Godoe thanked her colleagues for reposing their confidence in her to contribute to the country’s HIV response.
“It is a challenge and another opportunity that has been given to me, so I must commend the groups for their hard decision to put me in this leadership to serve for the three years that will be coming,” Josephine said.
Josephine: “Others like to undermine each other, but all we need to do is to improve our lives in our workplace and let the unity come among us. The more we are united we will have a great change and have achievement out there; but when we are fighting one another we will not reach our goal.”
Josephine urged the network’s members to do away with internal fighting and unite to advocate for the welfare of their colleagues across the country who do not have access to treatment due to stigma and discrimination.
She told her colleagues that a lot is required in meeting the needs of people infected with HIV in the country, and that only unity would ensure that stakeholders and policymakers prioritize the provision of care, support and treatment services.
Josephine said her leadership will collaborate with the National AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Program and other institutions to create awareness in encouraging people to know their HIV status as early as possible and mitigate stigma and discrimination against people living with the virus.
According to her HIV which was considered as a death sentence in the past has now become a manageable health condition, but stigma and discrimination are traumas that killing people infected with the virus.
According to the 2013 Stigma Index report on Liberia, 29.81 percent people living with HIV have been verbally insulted, 21% has been physically assaulted, 20% subjected to psychological pressure of manipulation by sexual partners and 48% said they were aware of being gossiped about.
Twenty-six percent of respondents identified the reason for stigma and discrimination, to be fear of people for getting infected by them, another 27 percent believes that those who stigmatize them do not understand the modes of HIV transmission.
This, Josephine said, remains a huge task for the Network of People living with HIV to tackle, noting that this cannot be achieved in the midst of internal conflict.
The outgoing President of the Network, Jojoe Baysah described Josephine as a person best suited to replace him because she is not a stranger among people living with HIV in the country.
“I have worked with Josephine for a very long time and I know she will perform,” Joejoe said.
He urged her not to create a bloc within the network, but work with everybody to ensure unity.