(Ikenna Osuoha, NAN)
The Coalition of Civil Society Networks on HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (CoCSNHAN) on Wednesday in Abuja said that Gender-Based Violence could trigger community spread of HIV/AIDS if not checked.
The First Cochairman of the group, Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that increased cases of gender-based violence was not only worrisome but capable of disrupting the progress so far made in the fight against HIV.
Nwakamma, who described gender-based violence as “a pandemic”, said it was high during the lockdown with its attendant consequences.
He explained that mental issues could be responsible for gender-based violence which was capable of escalating new HIV infections as occasioned by COVID-19 lockdown.
“Another serious emerging issue from the COVID-19 is the increased cases of gender-based violence and the resultant mental health burden.
“The most disturbing part is that people have no opportunity for support as the whole attention is on COVID-19.
“We know the implication on HIV. Gender-based violence can lead to new HIV infections and even affect adherence to treatment as a result of the associated mental health problem,” he said.
According to him, some persons have complained that the prolonged lockdown increased the incidences of gender-based violence among partners with underlying conflicts.
Nwakamma, however, advocated for mobile healthcare for Nigerians, especially people living with HIV.
“What these situations point to is the need to take healthcare beyond the hospitals. We have been too biomedical in our approach and pay less attention to opportunities in community-based response or home-based care.
“We have to devise a means to improve or promote health in the spaces where people live. One way to do this is to strengthen a home-based care model using technology.
“For instance, we can have platforms for tele-counselling and reporting or a simple telemedicine approach that can allow people to consult with their physicians on telephone,” Nwakamma said.
He said that the lesson from COVID-19 was the inevitability of mobile hospital as well as paying attention to the mental health needs of the people.