HIV/AIDS stigma more traumatising than disease itself ― Physician…Virus killed 44,830 in 2019, with 100,000 new infections

By Ibrahim Hassan

No fewer than 1.8 million persons are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

This came as the virus claimed 44,830 lives in 2019, while  more than 100,000 new infections were equally recorded in the same year.

These were disclosed yesterday at a capacity building for People Living with HIV and AIDS, PLWHA organised by the National Agency for Control of AIDS, NACA, and Society for Women Development and Empowerment of Nigeria, SWODEN in Kaduna State.

SWODEN’s Programme Officer, Mr Umar Jimeta, who gave the figures at the opening of the five-day programme said efforts were on to make HIV interventions more impactful.

He said the training, with SWODEN as the implementing partner, was designed to address the gaps in HIV service delivery, particularly care and treatment, and addressing the drivers of HIV pandemic in the country.

Jimeta said the target groups included Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWAN, Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, ASWAN, and Association of Positive Youths Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, APYIN.

According to him, “There is also the key population which constitutes people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers and prisoners, among others. The idea is to improve their capacity to improve access to efficient services and join the fight against HIV and take it to the grassroots through awareness creation and community engagement and mobilisation. This will strengthen governments and development partners’ interventions and ensure that relevant stakeholders work together towards ending the scourge of HIV by 2030.”

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The programme officer said NACA was supporting the intervention in 10 states of the federation, including Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Abuja, Niger, Kogi, and Jigawa.

According to him, ”more than 1.8 million people are living with the virus in the country, with 65 per cent of them receiving treatment. The virus claimed 44,830 lives in 2019, and more than 100,000 new infections were equally recorded in the same year.”

On his part, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Aids Control Agency, Dr Isah Baka, thanked NACA and SWODEN for supporting the state to strengthen access to HIV services.

Baka described the capacity building as a “wonderful beginning” for 2021, noting that the agency would soon roll out massive awareness campaign for people to know their status and take responsibility.

According to him, capacity building and awareness creation would enable people to take responsibility to know their status, be on treatment and take responsibility to protect their neighbours from contracting the virus.

He said the state government was committed to providing the needed resources to implement high impact HIV programmes that would further reduce HIV prevalence in the state from 1.1 per cent to zero per cent.

Speaking, Assistant Secretary, NEPWAN, Kaduna State Chapter, Mr Aliyu Sada, also commended NACA, the state government and development partners for the efforts at improving access to HIV services.

He added that the training would help to address the problems of stigmatisation, adherence to treatment and take HIV drugs closer to the people for easy access.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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