BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA |
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on economic life of people living with HIV and AIDS than any other population.
Director-general of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, stated this at a press briefing, yesterday in Abuja, as part of activities to commemorate. This year’s World AIDS Day, themed: “Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.”
He said “This year’s theme in Nigeria is “United to End AIDS in the Midst of Covid-19, Get Tested”. This is important because this year’s HIV response is different because of COVID-19.
“We have seen the impact of COVID-19 on HIV programming even though we are scrutinizing our data to find out the real impact of Covid-19 on People Living with HIV but one thing that we know is that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on economic life of people living with HIV AIDS than any other population.”
According to Aliyu, NACA, with the support of the UNAIDS, recently launched a project to Prevent, Protect and Empower (PPE) people living with HIV AIDS because they find it difficult to go to facility to collect medication and also find it difficult to earn a living.
“We are focusing on indigent women simply because women are more disadvantaged economically than men, then after, we will empower the men. We want to teach them how to do small businesses and give them seed money to enable them start a business,” he explained.
Commending President Buhari for funding NACA and for keeping to his pledge of putting 100,000 people living with HIV AIDS on treatment with domestic resources, the DG called on the private sector to join in the effort as they did with the HIV Trust Fund.
He said “Together we will be out in the community to fight stigma and discrimination so that people will have the confidence to get tested for HIV. It is only when people agree to get tested that our dream of getting to 90:90:90 can be realised.”
In her goodwill message, the representative of the UN, Dr Fiona Braka, said the HIV response will demonstrate true success when we start
with identifying, adding that is it only by achieving the expected target of persons knowing their status that success can truly be achieved with treatment and viral suppression in the population.
According to her, “In Nigeria, progress towards 90:90:90 shows that for the first 90, 73 per cent of people living with HIV know their status. This is a great achievement for the country, but we need to do more. Identifying persons who are positive is urgent and becomes more challenging as we approach the last mile.
“As we appreciate the achievement, let us take a moment to reflect on the lives that have been lost due to AIDS related causes.
“Let us continue to build on the lesson learnt throughout the history of the response and say with our voice that stigma and discrimination
have no place in homes, communities, schools and healthcare facilities and everyone regardless of sex, sexual orientation and socio-economy standing is empowered to fearlessly access HIV testing and related
services for prevention and services, she said. The World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1st of December every year.