En route World AIDS Day 2017, HealthNewsNG intern Joan Obasi takes a look at the current status of stigmatization and discrimination experienced by more than 3 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS…
In Oyo state about 12,700 individuals across the 33 local government areas in the state are set to be tested for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus by the State Agency for the Control of Aids (OYSACA) as part of the events to commemorate the 2017 World AIDS Day.
Chairperson of OYSACA and the first lady of the state, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, said that the test will be conducted for children in orphanages, barbers, tailors, hairdressers and NURTW members at their different state office.
She urged media practitioners to shun derogatory description of people living with HIV/AIDS, noting that there was a treatment for the virus to be suppressed.
Latest figures revealed that 3.2 million people live with HIV in Nigeria. There is 2.9% adult HIV prevalence, 220,000 new infections, 160,000 AIDS-related deaths, 31% adults and 21% of children infected are on antiretroviral treatment.
It is worthy to note that Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and has one of the highest new infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa. This can be linked to the high level of stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
Experts believe that many Nigerians still see the disease as a curse from God or a result of sexual recklessness, this however as been shown as untrue.
The Nigerian government has tried to provide a safe and supportive environment for people living with HIV/AIDS through the enactment of the HIV/AIDS Anti Discrimination Act, 2014. The law stands against discrimination based on real or perceived HIV status in workplaces, communities and institutions.
As the World AIDS day 2017 approaches, stakeholders are hoping that zero stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS can be achieved.
The World AIDS day is marked on the 1st of December every year and the theme for this year is- My Health, My Right. It is a call to policy makers, individuals and everyone within the society to respect the rights of every citizen no matter the situation.
Policymakers are enjoined to strive to make stigma and discrimination a thing of the past since AIDS is no longer a death sentence, it is a disease that can be successfully managed. Advocates are encouraging more Nigerians to know their HIV status so as to be able to meet the global goal of ending the HIV scourge by 2030.
This is greatly hampered by stigmatization and discrimination against HIV positive individuals which in turn is discouraging many individuals from going for HIV testing which in turn results to more people contracting the virus. Furthermore, widespread stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV/AIDS adversely affect people’s willingness to take an HIV test.
If people do not know their HIV status, the chances of those who are HIV positive transmitting the virus to their partners increases.
Yet people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria continue to face various forms of stigmatization, discrimination and violations of their rights and dignity, which are barriers to the scale up access to comprehensive care, treatment and support.