By Titus Atondu, Makurdi
Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom has disclosed that a total of 184,745 are presently living with Human Immune Virus (HIV) in Benue State.
Ortom made the disclosure on Monday during the commemoration of the 2019 World AIdS Day with the theme as “Communities Make The Difference.”
Ortom who was represented by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Sunday Ongbabo, said out 184, 745 persons, and 142,873 have been placed on treatment while 45,000 of them are yet to be identified.
“Benue’s HIV prevalence rate from 2018 National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), at 4.9 percent, this translates to about 184,745 PLHIVs.
“The Government of Benue state with support from our development partners as at 2018 have placed 142, 873 on treatment.”
Ortom appreciated “Communities” who have been at the fore-front of the fight against social injustice stigma and discrimination wnd all forms of practices and cultural norms that had restricted access to life-saving services for People living with and 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 foe 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 d the day is one to stand with those who are infected and affected by the disease and renew the call that human tights and sociak justice is 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 oftechnical and finanvial support support to Benue is 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 link 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.