NIGERIA: Stigmatization and decriminalization among people living with Human Immune Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have been described as one of the biggest obstacles facing the fight against the continued surge in the cases of the virus in the country.
This was made known in Abuja by the Nigeria Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire during the Dissemination of Survey Report on Nigeria People Living with HIV Stigma Index 2.0 Survey organized by Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, (NEPLWHAN).
Ehanire said, “Stigma and discrimination are the major hindrances to the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria”.
Ehanire applauded the efforts of the people living with HIV and AIDS for their endurance even in the face of stigma, and reassured them of continued support by the ministry to end HIV/AIDS by 2030.
Ehanire, who was represented by Dr Akudo Ikpeazu of the Federal Ministry of Health, noted that as the fight towards ensuring HIV free society, stigmatization has been the biggest hindrance in actualizing the dream.
Ehanire also added that about 1.6 million Nigerians are living with HIV & AIDS and are under medical attention.
Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, (NACA), Dr Gambo Aliyu, sees stigmatization as a huge problem in knowing people living with HIV.
Aliyu added that the fight against HIV/AIDS would not be fully won without stopping discrimination among the people.
“I must commend the effort of NEPLWHAN, in educating the general public about the danger associated with stigmatization and assuring NACA’s complete support”, Aliyu said.
Aliyu further guaranteed that the agency under his leadership in the last 18 months has gotten wider coverage to people living with HIV and bringing them closer for care and treatment.
Also speaking, National Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, (NEPLWHAN) Abdulkadir Ibrahim, noted that the essence of the dissemination was to unveil the elements that trigger stigma and discrimination in the public domain.
Ibrahim, further described stigma and discrimination, as instrument responsible for numerous of spoken attack and depression of people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to Ibrahim, “if stigma and discrimination are not tackled, achieving HIV free nation by 2030 would be a difficult thing to come by”.
The Country Director, UN Joint Action on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Dr Erasmus Morah expressed satisfaction that the results from the survey would be used judiciously in various ways.
Morah, who was represented by Dr Takpa Koubagnine, was confident of UNAIDS’ continued support in ensuring NEPLWHAN’s access to quality healthcare services.
The stigma index survey 2.0 Report is aimed at measuring the stigma and discrimination experiences of People Living with HIV/AIDS, in Nigeria, Morah noted.
The survey results would be used to bring HIV programme priorities as the global and national HIV responses enter new phases of strategic planning and resource prioritisation, Morah further assured.