From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Benue State has been urged to strengthen implementation of laws on stigmatisation of people living with HIV /AIDS.
A participant, Victoria Achiaga made the call at the celebration of World AIDS Day organized by a nongovernmental organisation AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF in Makurdi at the weekend.
Victoria said as an HIV/AIDS victim she has faced a lot of discrimination from the society, wondering if the future holds anything for her and others.
Also sharing his experience, a member of Adolescents and Young Persons, AYPs Martins Okpa lamented over the refusal of young people to disclose their HIV/AIDS status because of fear and rejection as well as stigmatization, emphasizing on the need for improved communication as well as provision of testing facilities in rural areas.
He also, urged government to keep the promise by funding bodies and institution responsible for fight against HIV/AIDS.
State Coordinator of AHF Dr. Uduak Effiom disclosed that over 145,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Benue State are placed under special care and treatment.
Dr. Uduak explained that the essence of the day is to unite all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, adding that it is meant to remember those who have died of AIDS.
According to her, there has been significant achievements recorded in the fight against the scourge, maintaining too, that there has been more than 85 percent suppression of the disease in the State.
While stressing the need for communities to play significant role in the reduction of AIDS, she also, observed the emergence of new infections especially amongst young people. She attributed this to lack of information, inexperience and inability and refusal to access treatment due to stigma.
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 averred that government cannot continue to rely on foreign donors, decrying the attitude of Local Governments in failing to remit 200,000 naira 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.