Over 11,500 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Benue state have been placed under care and treatment by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF, in the state.
The Coordinator of AHF in Benue state, Mrs. Uduak Effiom who made this known yesterday during the World Aids Day, WAD, celebration in Makurdi said the organisation had recorded significant success in its fight against the virus in the state.
According to her, “in the course of our intervention in Benue state we have not only ensured that significant achievements are recorded, we have indeed actually recorded significant improvements.
“And in pursuit of our core values our organisation has successfully placed 11,500 clients on care and treatment since its inception in the state.
“We have also recorded 85 percent viral suppression across all our facilities in Benue state. Due to the collaborative efforts of the state with its partners, HIV prevalence in the state has been reduced from 14.1 percent to currently 4.9 percent.
“The State Ministry of Health has also indicated that out of the estimated 188,000 people living with HIV, 145,000 have been placed on medication.
“But despite these lofty achievements a lot is still desired in the area of ensuring that communities are effectively involved in the fight against the virus.
“Communities are the lifeline of an effective HIV/AIDS response and an important pillar of support hence the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day which is ‘Community Makes the Difference.’
“This focuses on the significant roles communities play and still playing in AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.” Mrs. Offiom said.
She noted that the year’s celebration came timely to offer opportunity to address most of the challenges being faced in the fight against the virus.
According to her, “to do justice to the celebration the issue of challenges being faced by the adolescents who make high percentage of the community population must be given desired attention in order to effectively tackle the challenge posed by the virus in that age bracket.”
Also speaking, Mr. Steve Aborishade, the AHF Advocacy and Marketing Manager observed that “the HIV/AIDS Challenge of today is not the same as what we had in the past.
“In the past you are worried about how to live and how not to die. But today it’s totally different. People are no longer dying, but the worry is about the quality of life individuals can live.
“Until we are able to give quality life to persons who are HIV positive we cannot say we have tried enough.
“We have to acknowledge that government is trying. Our international partners who are basically funding the intervention are giving their best but we are saying that with dwindling funds, we cannot continue to rely on foreign donors.
“It is important and we task the government, though we appreciate all it has done but we are asking the government, the private sector and spirited individuals, can we now start to look inwards and commit some local resources to fighting HIV/AIDS?
“This we must do because the funds are drying up and there are new challenges that HIV/AIDS is now posing especially to young people.
“That is why we brought young people together today to enable them add their own voices and tell us the challenges that they face especially on their reproductive health and rights,” he added.
Highlight of the celebration were talks by young persons living with the virus who individually spoke on the challenges they face and the need for improved intervention by governments at all levels.