- Nigeria has flagged off the 2021 World AIDS Days with the theme, End Inequality, End AIDS Through Financing
- The flag-off ceremony was organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in Abuja on Tuesday, November 30
- Also, emergency calls were made to ensure state governments sit up in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
- There was also a call for the inclusion of inmates in various correctional facilities in the HIV/AIDS treatment plan
The leadership of the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDs (NEPWHAN) in Nigeria has accused the Ebonyi state government of treating some of its members badly.
Giving gory details of the sufferings of a young lady who he identified as Blessing Ogbonna, a resident of Abakiliki, the capital city of Ebonyi state, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the national coordinator of NEPWHAN said the state has failed the people.
Speaking at the official flag-off of the 2021 World AIDS Day (WAD) in Abuja on Tuesday, November 30, Ibrahim said that several HIV positive Nigerians are languishing for lack of care and treatment in the state.
The flag-off ceremony was organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, UNICEF, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, UNFPA, UNAIDS, the University of Manitoba among many others.
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This year's event is themed, "End Inequality, End AIDS! Through Sustainable Financing".
Raising alarm on the glaring challenges faced by Blessing in Ebonyi state, Ibrahim said:
"I met a girl, a very beautiful girl, in a Abakiliki but HIV is about to finish this girl. She had already failed the first and second line of treatement and nobody in Ebonyi seems to care about her sitaution."
"The Ebonyi state government is not responding actively to the challenges of the people living with HIV in the state."
Listing some of the atrocities going on at most of the medical facilities in the state, Ibrahim said many people in the state are struggling due to the level of poverty in the land and should not be put through more suffering.
"We went to the hospitals (in Abakiliki, Ebonyi state), they charge people for everything. They charge pregnant women for testing of HIV, they collect money for screening, for CD4 count, they charge money from HIV positive patients to renew their hospital cards."
Further stressing the need for the design of programs that could support an all-inclusive testing and treatment process for HIV positive Nigerians, Ibrahim every pregnant woman in Nigeria must be identified and tested for the virus.
He said the Ebonyi state government needs to tap into the efforts made at the federal level to ensure that no one is left out in the testing and treatment of HIV.
Exclusion of inmates in the correctional facilities from HIV testing and treatment
Speaking on the obvious exclusion of inmates across various correctional facilities in the country, the NEPWHAN coordinator warned that a disaster is set to occur should the country consistently fail to capture this population of Nigerians.
"A lot of people are living with HIV in our prisons and we must ensure we make conscious effort to capture them in the treatment plan."
"We must ensure that everybody in the prison is tested and those that are positive are placed on Anti-Retroviral drugs immediately."
Reacting to the emergency call made by Ibrahim, the minister of state for health, Adeleke Mamora, who represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, commended the NEPWHAN coordinator for his boldness.
Mamora said Ibrahim's call for action on behalf of Blessing must all be extended to all those living with HIV in the country irrespective of their status, location among others.
"Let this gathering be a blessing to Blessing and make her a point of contact for others in the state and the country at large. Let this not be a routine but let it be on purpose, we must continue to strive to do more for the sake of humanity."
Earlier in his address, the director-general of NACA, Gambo Aliyu, said today marks the beginning of the 2021 WAD.
He said the wisdom behind the flag-off ceremony is to enable the leadership of the country especially those working around HIV to have the opportunity to seat together and brainstorm on ways to make living better for HIV positive Nigerians.
"As we all know, World AIDS Day is that day that we all come together to remember people who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, those who have sacrificed and fought HIV in the last 40-years and are still fighting."
"And our patients that are out there battling this virus and giving us hope that HIV can be controlled and that the control of HIV is sustainable."
He also said that Nigeria is on the fast-track lane in the effort to control the prevalence of the HIV epidemic due to the collaborative work by all stakeholders in the fight against the virus.
Reducing HIV/AIDs transmission among persons who inject drugs
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that Nigeria is on the move to reduce the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs (PWIDs).
Aliyu said through a new evaluation report Nigeria would be able to reduce HIV transmission among 44,000 PWIDs.
The NACA DG said that with the findings of the evaluation being put to effective use, it will enable the country to plan for the about 44,000 persons who inject drugs in Nigeria.
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Also, Nigeria has been urged to do all it takes to end inequality among persons living with the virus.
As the fight against the spread of the virus continues globally, the country director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Erasmus Morah, said Nigeria must not rest its oars in the effort to prevent the transmission.
He said the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV must continue to be a priority for the country.