World AIDS day: Ogun steps up awareness campaign against spread of HIV/AIDS

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The Ogun State government has said that its agency is working assiduously to contain the spread of Human Immuno Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), against its spread as against the report that it has the highest numbers of the affected persons.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker made this known at a press briefing organized by Ogun State Agency For the Control of AIDS (OGSACA), in commemoration of 2020 World AIDS Day, with the theme “United To End AIDS In the Midst of Covid-19”, held at Governor’s office Press Centre, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

Coker, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Hospital Management Board, Dr. Nofiu Aigoro, said that it has stepped up developmental plans and implementing some prevention programmes in some centres across the State to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS.

She added that the programmes were targeted to populations at risk, disseminating educational resources and messages on HIV risks and prevention, saying that educating health care professionals about evidence-based HIV prevention strategies was also imperative.

“Indeed, we need to be resilient to fight against laws that codify stigma, discrimination and criminalization that restrict gender equality and access to human rights based response,” Coker said

Coker who hailed the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun for her support to the People Living With HIV (PLWHIV),  by giving them palliatives during the COVID-19 lockdown, assured that vigorous campaign would be  taken to every nook and cranny of the State including riverine areas.

The Executive Secretary, OGSACA, Dr. Kehinde Fatungase, hinted that poverty, low literacy level, stigma, discrimination, low political will, low use of condoms and risky sexual behaviour were major contributors to the increase of HIV in the state.

He also said that rapid influx of person’s into the State on account of congestion in Lagos with development of new industries, towns and settlements were contributing to high HIV prevalence in the State.

Fatungase said that by mid 2020, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, 49,211 persons have been counselled, tested and result were given, out of which 105 were tested positive, saying that the state currently has 20,827 persons currently on  Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).

Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministy of Information and Strategy, Mr. Abiodun Awere represented by Director Strategy, Mr. Tunde Kazeem, commended the present administration for giving support to OGSACA, urging the agency to build up enlightenment campaign and advocacy to enable members of the public know the dangers inherent in unprotected sexual intercourse.