Written by Scholastica JOSEPH

Ortom seeks collaborative effort in HIV/AIDS fight

As Nigerians join the rest of the World to commemorate the 2017 World AIDS Day, last week, the Benue State government has called on citizens to unite in the fight against the pandemic, saying government cannot fight it alone. 

Speaking at IBB Square in Makurdi, Governor Samuel Ortom, urged individuals, families and corporate organisations to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Benue State to ensure an HIV/AIDS-free society  

Speaking through his deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu, Ortom said from the time HIV/AIDS became an epidemic in Benue in the late 1990s, remarkable achievements have been recorded on the set targets of behaviorial change and prevention of new infections.

He also explained that there has been an increased demand for HIV/AIDS counselling and testing due to the State's Agency for the Control of AIDS, SACA's intensified sensitization and demand creation activities both in urban and rural areas. 

"From 2010 to 2017, the number of service delivery points for HIV/AIDS management has remarkably increased for HIV testing services, prevention of mother to child transmission and treatment centers. Similarly, HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination have also reduced greatly."

Speaking on this year's global theme for the commemoration of the World AIDS Day, "Right to Health" which had been modified for national relevance in Nigeria as, "Right to Health - Making it Happen", the governor stated that everyone has the right to realize the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination.

"Healthcare should be accessible, acceptable, available and of good quality for everyone leaving no one behind. Health is no longer a charity or privilege for few but is demanded as a right for all."

Acting Country Programme Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF, Greg Abiaziem, told journalists that about one million deaths with two million new infections of HIV/AIDS were recorded in the year 2016.

He said out of this number, Benue recorded about 300,000 new cases in 2016 with 15.4 prevalence rate at the moment. 



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