In commemoration of 2018 World AIDS day, Lagos State Government has urged residents to know their HIV status and desist from all forms of discrimination against patients.
Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Agboola Dabiri, made the appeal during HIV/AIDS awareness talk in Agege, Lagos.
Dabiri, who was represented by the Director of Youth, Mr. Bode Adams, said the spread of HIV/AIDS would be detrimental to Nigeria’s growth if not tackled by testing, counseling and awareness.
He called for institutional and political commitment for the creation of policies that provides life-saving medication for patients.
According to him, “HIV is an infection that destroys the human immune system and renders the entire body vulnerable to any kind of disease.”
“Thus, we must intensify our collective efforts to meet the serious challenges to eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people in Nigeria and Lagos State, in order to move towards a HIV-free generation by 2020,” Dabiri said.
He urged HIV patients to disregard myths of the infection being a death sentence as “HIV/AIDS can be managed like any other disease and the patients made to live normal lives.”
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, who was represented by Kayode Asake said, “HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can have healthy and productive health.”
He, however, urged government and private owned organisations to support government to intensify campaigns of HIV/AIDS.
Speaking on the theme ‘Know your status’, HIV/AIDS specialist, Dr. Toriola Adebayo, said ignorance of HIV status increases the risk at which an individual can be infected.
According to her, 70 million people had been infected of HIV, and 35 million have died of the infection since discovery in 1983.
Adebayo while lamenting low rate of HIV testing, disclosed that only 22 million out of over 37 million people currently affected are undergoing treatment.
She stated that one out of four persons infected with HIV might not know for about two – four years. She, therefore, suggested that knowledge of status be made mandatory to residents by government.
The HIV/AIDS specialist said that blood contact, unprotected sex, sharing of toothbrush, needles and other objects are the major causes of HIV spread in Nigeria.
She advised Lagosians and Nigerians to periodically check their status and stop discriminating HIV positive persons.