From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
In a bid to meet the 2030 projection for total elimination of HIV/AIDS, the Taraba State Agency for the Control of AIDS (TACA) is partnering with the state House of Assembly for a law that would sanction those who deliberately infect others or fake medical certification for marriages.
The state Director of the Agency, Dr Garba Danjuma, who disclosed this during an interaction with the members of Taraba Health Media Advocacy Network (THMAN), said that significant progress has been made in the last decade.
He noted that the major challenge is with some targeted groups such as commercial sex workers and Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders (LGBT), who indulge in very risky behaviors that pose a major threat in the effort to rid the world of the virus.
Danjuma said that while some of these groups are abhorred from a moral and religious point of view, it was very important to work with them so as to reduce the threat they pose to themselves, their loved ones and the general public.
‘We have made significant progress I the battle against HIV and AIDS. From second in the country in 2012, we are now the fourth, which means we are the highest in North East and second highest in the North, second to Benue State.
‘We have over 40k on treatment and the projection is that over 80k are carriers. This means we need to change strategy so that we can reach the most vulnerable sections.
‘Drug addicts have the tendency of sharing shringes same way commercial sex workers also put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex and so we are targeting these groups specifically and pregnant women. Other key groups include Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Transgenders, (LGBT) who equally indulge in very risky behaviors.
‘That is why we are Collaborating with the state Assembly for a law that sanctions persons who are positive and decieve others into marriage or who forge medical certificates. We would focus on premarital counseling and testing and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.
‘Our drive for a more rubost collaboration with the media is premises on the fact that there is still a lot of enlightenment to be done. As pressmen, you are able to reach all sections of the society in ways that are very impressive. You have done wonderful jobs in the past and your deliberate efforts count so much for the progress we have made so far. We believe that we can do a lot more with your assistance,’ Danjuma said.
He said that there were over a thousand LGBT in the state and the level of prevalence amongst them remains very high.
The state chairman of the media network, Alhaji Sadiq Adamu, assured TACA that the media network would work with the agency and other health partners to ensure that the well-being of the people remains a top priority at all times.
Our correspondent reports that the interaction came shortly after an endline meeting of the network where members took stock of the progress made so far and the challenges confronting reporting of health related issues and resolved to work even more in the days ahead to tackle the menaces of HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, hepatitis and other medical conditions plaqueing the people.