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Sunday 22nd July 2018,
Hope for Nigeria

AIDS In Ogun State 400,000 Infected With HIV

Ogun-State-Commissioner

The Commissioner for Health, Olaokun Soyinka, noted that the current figure was a hundred thousand higher than the previous year’s figure.

He was speaking at a press conference in Abeokuta organised in preparation for the World AIDS Day celebration in the state.

Mr. Soyinka stated that the prevalence rate, which kept rising and falling and maintaining an undefined pattern since 1996, implied that the state was not winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

He said that the current prevalence rate stood at 3.1, but added that the state government had not relented in its fight against the virus.

He said the fight was from all fronts including education, sensitisation, HIV testing and counselling, and provision of anti-retroviral drugs.

The Commissioner disclosed that the level of HIV infection was highest in Ijebu Ode with a prevalence of 5, followed by Abeokuta which had 2.7.

He explained that Ijebu Ode was high because it thrived as an economic and social hub by virtue of being a transit point to other states.

He also noted that the town had a high student and youth population, the ones hardest hit by the virus.

Mr. Soyinka described the state’s proximity to Lagos as a blessing but pointed out that it, however, increased the need to develop more portent methods to prevent the disease.

He stressed that there was a continuous influx of people into the state from Lagos which has a relatively higher prevalence rate in Southwest Nigeria.

“Strategies must be in place to avert HIV transmission from Lagos State which records prevalence of 4.2,” he warned.

He regretted that in spite of the numerous amount of information being passed about the deadly virus, distribution of new infections was still highest among couples, whom he referred to as “low risk heterosexuals.”

He said demography represented 45.17 per cent of new infections.

“There is still low comprehensive knowledge about HIV, especially in rural areas.

And apart from that, rate of infection is highest among couples because some don’t know their status, and still don’t use condoms.

And in using condoms, we stress correct use of condoms,” he said.

He stated that this year’s World AIDS day celebration in the state was geared at achieving zero prevalence.

With the sub-theme, “Take charge of your life, know your HIV status,” it would be aimed at encouraging people to know their status and avoid discriminating against people living with the virus.

On stigmatisation, the commissioner said it was a major reason why people were afraid of knowing their status.

“Stigmatisation is a very serious issue. It is one reason why people are afraid of knowing or disclosing their status.

Even families are not willing to disclose the status of members living with the virus. So, how do you get treatment when you don’t know your status,” he said.

The Director of the State Action Council on AIDS (SACA), Kehinde Fatungase, told journalists that the state was sponsoring a stigmatisation bill, which would make discrimination against HIV/AIDS victims a serious crime.

“The stigmatisation bill is in the house. It has gone through second reading and I gather that there would be a public hearing on it next month. So, once this important bill is passed and signed into law, we’ll be able to fight stigmatisation frontally,” Mr. Fatungase declared.

He also said that operators of traditional birth areas were being partnered with in order to increase the prevention of mother to child transmission of the deadly virus

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