From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
The Acting State Coordinator, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, (AHF) Dr. Uduak Effiom has decried the emergence of new infections of HIV/AIDS especially amongst young people in Benue calling on communities to play significant role to stem the tide.
Dr. Uduak stated this at a one-day symposium organised by the AHF in Makurdi to commemorate the 2019 World AIDS Day.
She also decried lack of information, inexperience, inability and refusal of some victims to access treatment due to stigma and called on the society to help the victims by not stigmatizing.
Uduak who explained that the day is celebrated to unite all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and to remember those who have died of AIDS, said that inspite of the new cases, over 145,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Benue State are accessing special care and treatment
According to her, Benue state has also recorded significant achievements recorded in the fight against the scourge, explaining that the state has achieved more than 85 percent suppression of the disease.
Advocacy and Marketing Manager of AHF, Nigeria, Steve Aborisade said more effort should be made by government to give quality life to people living with HIV,/AIDS in the State.
He posited that government cannot continue to rely on foreign donors, decrying the attitude of Local Governments in failing to remit N200,000 to fight the scourge.
“There are new challenges posed by HIV/AIDS especially amongst young people in accessing services. Hence, we call on government, individuals and organizations to commit resources in fighting the disease”, Steve said.
Mr. Steve also advocated for free sanitary pads to young girls in the country to address the challenges faced by many particularly those from poor homes.
He said it was necessary for governments at all level and privileged individuals to contribute to providing young girls of menstruating age with free sanitary pads because the face of HIV have changed over the years.
Aborishade said the change requires that the young women be supported to ensure proper healthy life and improved sanitary condition.
“AHF will be willing to support government anyway. For instance, if the ministry of women affairs in Benue state procure 300,000 sanitary pads; AHF will be willing to buy an additional 900,000 to be distributed freely to girls.
“Young girls face a lot of challenges and government must make effort to support them. Also, if the government decides to build 10 schools with toilets and water facilities, AHF will build 20 schools with toilets and water facilities. We should speak to the physiological needs of the people,” he said.
Some of the Adolescents and Young Persons, AYPs, Martins Okpa, Victoria, living with the disease decried the attitude people towards people living with AIDS and called for ghe strengthening of anti-stigmatization laws.
Martins particularly said the refusal of young people to disclose their HIV/AIDS status was out of fear, rejection and stigmatization, emphasizing on the need for improved communication as well as provision of testing facilities in rural areas.
He also, urged government to keep its promise by funding bodies and institution responsible for fight against HIV/AIDS.
AHF is an American donor organization collaborating with States in the reduction of HIV/AIDS disease.