From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Charge d’ Affaires and US Head Mission in Nigeria Kathleen Fitzgibbon has called on Benue State Government to show more commitment toward reduction of HIV /AIDS in the state.
Mrs. Fitzgibbon made the call yesterday at the official launch of Antiretroviral Therapy Surge Response and Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U).
Benue State ranks second behind Akwa Ibom State with 4.9 percent HIV /AIDS Infection rate in Nigeria.
The US mission Head who acknowledged the commitment exhibited by the State government in the fight against the disease, urged government to work hard and find over 45,000 yet to be tested, ensure they are tested and given treatment so as to bring the viral load to a minimal level.
“Make sure the people have access to drug. The essence of the program is to keep epidermic under control in two(2) years. You have shown the way. There are dialogues going on and this should continue. The Anti-stigmatization law which has been domesticated should be enforced. Government should continue to focus on stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with the disease. People are charged fees to get drug and this discourages them from seeking services. There should be rapid test for suppression. There is great stride in Benue. People should talk about HIV/AIDS publicly. Target is to have a HIV/AIDS free generation”, the US envoy said.
While launching the program, Governor Samuel Ortom noted that 169,000 persons have no access to treatment, adding that over 40,000 are yet to be identified and given treatment.
He appreciated the US government and other agencies for their support to the State, maintaining that their knowledge have been very impact full.
Ortom assured that the stigmatisation law domesticated by the State will be enforced.
He advised key stakeholders including traditional rulers, partners and religious organizations to take the message to the people to come out and be tested.
“Those of you who are carrying the disease and refusing to come out to be tested I urge you to do good and humanity by not spreading it”,be appealed.