NACA blames deaths from HIV, AIDS in Nigeria on stigmatisation

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ABUJA – The National Agency for the Control of AIDS on Tuesday said deaths associated with HIV and AIDS was due to stigmatisation against persons living with the virus in their community.

Prof. John Idoko, Director-General of the agency, said this in Abuja at the Nigerian Academy of Science public lecture and induction of fellows of the academy.

The lecture is entitled “achieving an end to the AIDS epidemic: laying the ground work’’.

According to him, we must address stigma at our various communities, so that persons living with the virus can live normal life with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

“The reason while people are dying is because of stigma, I encourage all communities to welcome with love, open arms and support people living with HIV.

“There is no reason while people should die of the virus because government has created more awareness on HIV.’’

Idoko said gender based violence and gender inequality must be addressed to enable the country achieve its fight on HIV and AIDS.

He also attributed the challenges to achieving viral suppression to inability of people to know their HIV status, late diagnosis of HIV infection and failure for HIV patients to link to care.

Idoko listed late initiative of ARV drugs and inability to achieve and maintain viral suppression as among other inhibitions, adding that viral suppression was suppressing or reducing the function and replication of HIV virus.

He said the end of AIDS would depend on “building on successes, learning from failures and implementing to scale – behavioural, biomedical and structural interventions.

“Need to develop new diagnostics which includes early post-exposure infection, vaccines, prevention, long-acting and slow release antiretroviral drugs, and a cure.

“Prevention programme needs re-invigorating, virtual elimination by 2030 is possible in principle, we have the tools, we need a new phase with accelerated action, increased focus and innovations and there are challenges but they should not deter us.

“We will not end AIDS tomorrow but it has to be part of our long-term vision for the post-2015 development agenda.’’

Ten new fellows were inducted into the academy.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Gustavo Dzugala, Ambassador of Argentina, advised the group to improve on science research in the country.

Dzugala said with the efforts by the Federal Government and other stakeholders, the fight against HIV and AIDS would soon be won. (NAN)