Ahead of World AIDS Day, 2022, an Abuja-based public health consultant, Thomas Ofem, has called on the National Assembly to urgently make a law to protect the rights of all Nigerians to the healthcare they need and ensure its enforcement.

Ofem also urged the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, to repeal laws that make it difficult for sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and other sexual minorities to access available HIV and AIDS treatment and care services.

In a statement he released to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, with the theme, “End Inequalities, End AIDS”, Ofem said, “to end AIDS in Nigeria we must end AIDS among all population segments”.

He also noted that laws and policies that reduce access to available HIV services by sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and other stigmatized and marginalized populations only worsen Nigeria’s AIDS epidemic.

According to statistics by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ofem noted; “1,600,000 Nigerians aged 15 years and above live with HIV, translating into an average national HIV prevalence rate of 1.3%”.

Ofem is a Public Health Consultant with core expertise in Social and Behavior Change. As Strategic Behavioral Communication Advisor with FHI360 (2004 – 2006), he led the team that designed and deployed the Heart2Heart campaign to create demand for HIV testing in Nigeria.

Ofem is currently supporting the south-south learning network for HIV prevention among countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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