Nigerians have been reminded that despite the emergence of seemingly more serious epidemics, HIV/AIDS scourge still remains one of the major challenges to public health in the country.
The Project Manager of Akwa Ibom State Action Committee on AIDS (AKSACA), Dr. Igbemi Arthur Igbemi who has said this at the meeting of the State’s HIV Media Advocacy Platform in Uyo, explained that the onus still lay with the media to play play their strategic role and bridge the information gap about HIV/AIDS.
Igbemi said timely reportage of HIV/AIDS matters is key to addressing the spread of the disease, and called on journalists in the state to report HIV issues with the passion to save life.
“HIV is a social and behavioural problem, and anything that has to do with social and behaviourial issue, communication is key. It is the information the society got that will help people reflect on it, have access to the drugs, and the way to prevent it as well,” he stressed.
He described the recent passage of a bill to prohibit stigmatization against persons living with HIV/AIDS into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as a good development in the fight against the disease in the State.
The AKSACA PM said that with the law in place, his Agency would review some of its activities as the law also sought to regulate the practice of HIV/AIDS counseling and testing in the state.
Contributing also at the meeting, a representative of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Namso-owo Thomas said that the Agency was committed to the fight against the disease, and appealed also to the media to do more of societal awareness that will bring about positive social change in the country.
Thomas hinted that, recent survey on the HIV/AIDS in the South South states showed Akwa Ibom and River states recording 75 per cent of new cases in the last three months.
He called for all hands to be on deck to address the problem as HIV/AIDS is a multi-sectoral problem.
Recall the Akwa Ibom State HIV Media Advocacy Platform is an offshoot of the South South Zone with Mr Sogbeba Dokubo of The Tide Newspapers, Rivers state as Chairman and Imaobong Dem of Inspiration FM Uyo as Secretary with members accross the zone.
The Uyo meeting, which drew participants from both electronic and print media outfits in the state, was the second on the series, meant to further seek ways to bringing more light to the issues through accurate reportage of AIDS matters.