Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has disclosed that over 145,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Benue State have been placed under special care and treatment.
The Foundation however attributed the emergence of new infections especially amongst young people to lack of information, inexperience and inability and refusal of young people to access treatment due to stigma.
Speaking during a symposium as part of activities lined up to mark this years World AIDS Day, acting State Coordinator of AHF Dr. Uduak Effiom harped on the need for communities to play significant role in the reduction of HIV/AIDS in the state.
According to Effiom, AHF, an American donor organization collaborating with States in the reduction of HIV/AIDS has decides this year to unite all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, adding that the event is also aimed at remembering those who have died of AIDS.
Effiom said one of the significant achievements recorded in the fight against the scourge in the state was the suppression of more than 85 percent of the disease.
On his part, AHF Nigeria’s Advocacy and Marketing Manager, Steve Aborisade stressed the need for government to pay more attention towards issues that would give quality life to people living with HIV/AIDS in the State rather than continuing to relying on foreign donors.
Aborisade further informed the gathering about new challenges posed by HIV/AIDS especially amongst young people in accessing services even as he called on government, individuals and organizations to commit resources in fighting the disease.
Some of the Adolescents and Young Persons, (AYPs) who shared their experience during the meeting including Martins Okpa and Achiaga Victoria maintained that many young people are finding it difficult to disclose their status for fear of rejection and stigmatization.
While commending AHF and other donor organizations foe ensuring free access to testing and treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS, the young people emphasized the need for improved communication as well as provision of testing facilities in rural areas.
They appealed to government to keep to its promise of funding bodies and institutions responsible for fight against HIV/AIDS as well as ensure the implementation of the anti stigma law in the state.