Activist explains how HIV can be eradicated in Nigeria

Posted by Agwu Okojogho, Umuahia | 20 May 2015 | 6,777 times

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Efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS in the country would continue to remain a mirage unless Nigerians imbibe the culture of voluntarily going for HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT).

National Coordinator of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Mr Edward Ogenyi, said in Umuahia that despite the apparent awareness of HIV in Nigeria, more needed to be done.

Ogenyi told newsmen at the beginning of a massive campaign on HIV awareness in Abia State with emphasis on HCT in Umuahia..

News Express gathered that the exercise was in keeping with President’s Comprehensive Response Plan (PCRP) and that the campaign was part of the federal government’s N8 billion programme on HIV control funded through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) with National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) driving the implementation.

Abia and Taraba states were selected as the pilot states for the programme implementation.

In Abia, the HCT campaigns would becarried to five designated local government areas including Aba South, Isiala Ngwa North,Obingwa, Osisioma and Umuahia North.

The outreach coordinators trained for the campaign are armed with flyers and other information materials to drum up uptake of HIV services in the designated local governments.

NEPWHAN is partnering the national Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PFN) and other stakeholders in carrying out the awarwness campaigns in Abia.

At a news conference preceding the commencement of the programme, the NEPHWAN national coordinator said:

“We are creating this awareness for people to understand the importance of knowing one’s HIV status early enough. If you go for HIV counseling and testing, at that point you have enough information through counseling about the type of drug to access,” he said.

Ogenyi explained that the focus on HCT has become pertinent because “the challenge we are having as a country is that many Nigerians are living with HIV but they don’t know. They only know they have HIV when they are sick and when you are sick it means that a lot of damage has been done.

“We are calling on the good people Abia state to take advantage of this opportunity because it is a free programme as nobody would ask you to pay a kobo.

"If you test and you are negative you gain and if you are positive you also gain because you will get information on how you can live positively,” he counseled.

He maintained that efforts to completely eradicate HIV in Nigeria would remain a tall dream unless people were encouraged to know their HIV status.

Citing Abia as an example of where a good number of people don’t know their HIV status, Ogenyi assured that the awareness campaign would be intensified in the designated local governments during the week-long campaign.

According to him, NEPWHAN which has 1,030 support groups in the 36 states and FCT with membership of over 500,000, adding that the group has been playing critical role in the war against HIV in Nigeria, just as their members receive peer and psycho-social support.

Programme Manager of NEPWHAN, Mr. Peter Nweke, said in an interview that there was ample evidence that awareness of HIV/AIDS campaign was dwindling, hence the need for the awareness programme for the uptake of HIV/AIDS services.

“Awareness is necessary because information is never enough; it has to be sustained. It is the responsibility and challenge of the Nigerian response to keep the pace and pressure, especially as it concerns HCT,” he said.

•Photo shows HIV/AIDS awareness

Source: News Express

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