The Acting Country Program Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Dr. Greg Abiaziem, on Friday said that at least 300, 000 people are still living positively with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Benue State.
Dr. Abiaziem in an interview with newsmen in Makurdi, said that the 15.4 percent prevalence rate of the scourge in the state was unacceptable and as such his organisation would put in its best intervention to stem the epidemic.
“In Benue state where we are working and with the current national survey carried out in 2014, ranked highest with 15.4 percent which is unacceptably high. That is why we are working hard as stakeholders to bring the figure down.
“We have over 300, 000 people living with HIV and AIDS. Out of this number, 140, 000 HIV patients are currently undergoing treatment in the state. The government must put more funds into HIV project to keep the service going to reduce prevalence. The adolescents’ girl are the most vulnerable and we need to reach out to them,” he said.
He further emphasized the need to urgently bridge the gap following the one million death recorded globally and two million new infections across the world in 2016 alone while 20 million persons are currently without treatment.
According to him, the status of people most vulnerable to the scourge had shifted to the adolescents with the key population being Men Sleeping with Men (MSM) as he noted that despite challenges ahead, the AHF in collaboration with the state’s agency on AIDS control has made huge success in the sector by reducing the size and impact of the epidemic in the state.
Abiaziem therefore pledge the resolve of the Foundation not to rest on its oars as more still needs to be done to expand coverage and access to HIV testing and treatment in the state, adding that this year’s World AIDS Day was meant to create awareness and launched fast-track initiatives to undergo testing and counselling which is an avenue to reach out to the populace so that they can come out and know their status.
He added: “Statistically, we have not really done well in terms of testing and treatment services. So we are here to advocate for people to come out for testing to receive counselling and early treatment if need be.”
Also speaking in Makurdi to mark this year’s World AIDS Day with the theme; ‘Make it happen, a right to health, right to treatment,’ the AHF’s HIV Prevention Coordinator, Amina Iyaji, intimated that the organisation currently provides care and support for people in 10 local government areas of the state.