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World AIDS Day: Stakeholders deliberate on stigmatisation of people living with HIV

Stakeholders in the health sector on Monday called for more
sensitisation of the public on the need to stop stigmatisation
of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The participants, including health experts, spoke at the World
AIDS day event organised by the Public Affairs Section of the
United States’ Consulate General, Lagos.

The event, themed “Increasing Impact through Transparency,
Accountability and Partnerships,” was held at the Lagos State
University College of Medicine, Ikeja.

Speaking at the event, Kevin Krapf, the Acting Public Affairs
Officer, U.S. Consulate General Lagos said the theme of the
programme reflects the U.S. government’s longstanding
leadership in addressing global HIV/AIDS and increasing impact
of epidemics.

According to him, it also highlights the historic opportunity
to accelerate progress toward controlling, and ultimately
ending, the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health threat in
countries around the world.

“According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS
(UNAIDS), Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the
world and has one of the highest new infection rates in
sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

“Many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their
status due to insufficient recommended number of HIV testing
and counselling centres. Low access to antiretroviral treatment
remains an issue for people living with HIV in Nigeria and I
welcome the new commitment of the federal government of Nigeria
to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an
additional 50,000 people living with HIV each year.”

Through the event, he said, the United States Mission in
Nigeria brought together relevant HIV/AIDS stakeholders in
Nigeria to share innovative strategies, successes attained,
lessons learned, and challenges confronting the fight against
HIV/AIDS.

“We are at an unprecedented moment in the global HIV/AIDS
response. For the first time in modern history, we have the
opportunity to change the very course of a pandemic by
controlling it without a vaccine or a cure.

“Controlling the pandemic will lay the groundwork for
eliminating or eradicating HIV, which we hope will be possible
through the future scientific breakthroughs which lead to an
effective HIV vaccine and cure.”

He said, “In Nigeria and around the world, we are closer to
controlling the HIV/AIDS pandemic than ever before – binding
communities, scientists, and political leaders together to
envision a very different future. What once seemed impossible
is now possible. But our work is far from done.”

Emmanuel Olaoti, an official of the Society for Family Health,
addressed numerous misconceptions and myths surrounding
HIV/AIDS. He added that the rights of most people living with
the virus are often violated in Nigeria.

He explained that some family members lock up the people and
deny them access to some basic facilities in the home. He also
sounded a note of caution to the media, saying reportage of
HIV/AIDS-related issues should be done with responsibility.

Oluseyi Temowo, Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Aids
Control Agency, LASACA, n his address, said awareness, testing
and strategy must be increased among the people.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that we have AIDS-free
generation, AIDS-free Nigeria and AIDS-free Lagos,” he said.

Source: Premium Times Nigeria

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