Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
There are indications that Benue State is gradually winning the battle against the dreaded HIV/AIDS following active intervention by all stakeholders to ensure drastic reduction of the scourge in the state.
Regional Medical Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Nigeria (Benue Office), Dr. Greg Abiaziem, who gave the hint on Saturday said the Foundation has in the past seven years of its existence in Benue ensured kept that more people get tested and had access to treatment to suppress their viral load in order to achieve epidemic control.
He, however, posited that a lot still needs to be done in the area of creating more awareness and ensuring that more people get counseled and tested so that they can know their status and take the necessary medical step.
“We are getting close to winning. I wouldn’t say the war has been won yet but we are getting there in Benue State.
“There is still more to be done. There are lots of people out there on the streets in urban cities, people in villages that don’t even know about HIV. It is only by getting tested that people know their status.
“So, for us, that is the entry point, we want to see a lot people come out to get tested. When anyone is found positive, such person is linked to a proper centre to be given necessary services.
“That is why we call on government, partners and everyone that matters to keep the promise.
“We want to keep the promise of HIV to ensure more persons are actually tested and placed on treatment and more person have viral suppression to achieve epidemic control,” he said.
Describing the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day celebration, “Live life positively by knowing your status,” as apt, Abiaziem noted that it was in line with the UNAIDS vision to achieve total control of the epidemic by having everyone know their status for global freedom from the dreaded virus.
The AHF representative enjoined relevant authorities to be more involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS averring that the idea is not a one man show but a collective stakeholders concern.
He stated further that Benue state has recorded great achievements in the fight against HlV/AIDS owing to the commitment and dedication of the state towards reducing the size and impact of the epidemic.
Abiaziem said the Foundation joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World AIDS Day by expanding coverage and access to HIV testing and treatment in Benue state to many communities including Makurdi and Gboko environs while also supporting a 300-student targeted audience from different schools around the state for an educative competition.
“We are using the competition to share HIV message and information on sexual and reproductive health to them.
“That age is vulnerable so we are reaching out to them to get the right message, we are preaching abstinence to them. We are not give them condom,” Abiaziem posited.
Earlier in a remark during the event to mark the World AIDS Day at the IBB square in Makurdi, Executive Secretary of Benue State AIDS Control Agency (BENSACA), Dr. Gideon Dura corroborated Abiaziem’s assertion that the incidence of HIV/AIDS has reduced in the state.