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Benue HIV/AIDS Prevalence Drops to 4.9%-0rtom

From Chris Gaga, Makurdi

The Government of Benue State said it has placed 142, 873 persons living with HIV/AIDS on treatment as at 2018 following support from development partners.

The government also disclosed that about 184, 745 people were currently living with the virus in the state.

Governor Samuel Ortom disclosed this, Monday, during the commemoration of the 2019 World AIDS Day.

Ortom who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Sunday Ongbabo, said out of 184, 745 persons, 142,873 have been placed on treatment while 45,000 of them were yet to be identified.

“Benue’s HIV prevalence rate from 2018 National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), stands at 4.9 percent, this translates to about 184,745 PLHIVs.

Ortom appreciated “Communities” that have been at the fore-front of the fight against social injustice, stigma and discrimination, and all forms of practices and cultural norms that had restricted access to life-saving services for People living with and or affected by HIV.

“Communities, I mean Network of People Living with or Affected by HIV, such as Adolescent and Young People, Female Sex Workers, Peope Who Inject Drugs,  Service Providers, Activists among others. They have been a veritable force in pushing for the provision of services in those remote areas and hard-to-reach areas of the state where stigma remains an issue.”

Also speaking, the First Lady of Benue and Chairperson, Board of Benue State AIDS Control Agency, (BENSACA), Mrs Eunice Ortom noted that it was a day to stand with those who are infected and affected by the disease.

Mrs Ortom advocated that human rights and social justice was needed more than ever to sustain the gains of the AIDS response in the past years.

She thanked all “communities” and development partners UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA among others for their contributions to fight against HIV in Benue, saying the scaling down of HIV prevalence to 4.9 percent in the state was an indication that all their years of technical and financial support to Benue was paying off.

The State Coordinator of Association of Positive Youths Living With HIV/AIDS In Nigeria, (APYIN), Terkura Adamgbe called on government to link patients with support groups to ensure they are properly monitored and followed to take their drugs properly.

“As government is placing the patients on treatment, they need to linked them to support groups so that we can monitor them and be sure they are taking their drugs. We also need to teach them how to manage the stigma and discrimination we are talking about,” he said.

The theme of this year’s Aids Day was, “Communities Make The Difference.”

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