By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
As the world brace up for World AIDS Day on Friday, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) harped on the need for Nigerians to ensure advocacy and testing.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, Advocacy and Marketing Manager of AHF, Mr Steve Aborisade, told Peoples Daily that the organization had concluded plans with several partners, including the Rotary Club, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Civil Society Coalition on AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN) and a horde of other Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to intensify the campaign.
He said the Friday’s advocacy on AIDS tagged; ‘Keep the Promise’ will focus on testing and treatment.
“We need to focus on testing and reaching the most at risk populations, Women/Girls, Sex Workers, Sexual Minority, and Youths. This is vital to reducing the rate of infection and to care for those affected.
“We also need to remind local and global officials that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not yet won and funding is very important in controlling AIDS”.
He recalled that in 2016, 1 million deaths were recorded while 2 million new infections recorded and 20 million people werewithout treatment.
“To keep a sense of urgency, we need to ensure that we get as much attention as possible to place the challenges of treatment and stigma on the agenda.
He added that the NGO had enrolled no fewer than 821,000 people living with HIV and AIDS on treatment in 38 countries around the globe.
He said the foundation had operated in 38 countries including six states in Nigeria – Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Cross river, Anambra and the FCT.
He said of the 821, 000 enrolled on treatment globally, over 13 000 people living with HIV were enrolled on treatment from six states with high burden of HIV in Nigeria.
Aborisade said the group had provided quality and free HIV/AIDS treatment in hard-to-reach communities of the project states.
While highlighting some of the achievements of the organisation, the advocacy and marketing manager said the beneficiaries of the programme were no longer able to transmit the disease to another person.
“Mothers living with the virus no longer transmit HIV to their babies; they deliver healthy babies who are HIV negative, while persons living with the virus enjoy longer life expectancy.
“Some years past, this wasn’t the story, the history of the HIV and AIDS epidemic was one of illness, uncertainty, fear and death as the world faced a new and unknown virus.
“Today’s achievements are as a result of dogged commitments of individuals, organisations and government.
“Looking back, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) evolved out of the struggle for today that we now have.
Aborisade further reiterated the commitment of AHF to re-strengthen its partnership with relevant stakeholders to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2020 and end AIDS as a public health challenge by 2030.