Gombe State Commissioner for Health Dr. Habu Dahiru, on Wednesday, said the state would unveil a simplified version of the HIV anti-discrimination law and implement it to fight stigmatisation of persons living with the health condition.
The commissioner spoke ahead of the 2022 World AIDS Day, noting that the state is committed to curbing stigmatisation which has become rampant.
Dahiru spoke at a media parley held at the state health ministry’s conference room as part of activities marking this year’s commemoration of World AIDS day.
The 2022 World AIDS Day is themed; End Inequalities. End AIDS.
The Commissioner disclosed that the law when implemented would help increase the demand for HIV testing, adding that the quality of lives of the state’s HIV-positive residents would equally improve.
He said, ” HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination continue to be pervasive issues in our society, impeding efforts to combat the pandemic via both treatment and prevention contributing to the state’s continued spread of HIV.
“To that end, we are unveiling a simplified version of our HIV anti-discrimination law today (World AIDS day), as a demonstration of this administration’s commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
Dahiru noted that the HIV prevalence rate of the state has declined from 5.8 per cent in 2006 to 1.2 per cent in 2021, revealing that out of 43,000 persons living with HIV, the state has identified and placed 70 per cent amounting to 30,000 on antiretroviral drugs.
According to him, the state is gradually closing the unmet need gap for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, attributing the successes to the unrelenting efforts of the State Government, and donor partners.
“We have noticed that the rate of new infections in the state is currently high, particularly among young individuals aged 15 to 24, with girls being vulnerable. The rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the state is unacceptably high.
“While best practices from around the world have revealed that for Gombe State to control her epidemic (s), the response must quickly identify every person living with the virus, link, and care for them, and keep them in care until the virus is suppressed, thereby interrupting further transmission, and controlling the epidemic,” Dahiru added.
The Commissioner revealed that to combat HIV there was a need to start with behaviour modification, noting that “It remains critical in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
“To avoid HIV, we should continue to spread knowledge about abstinence, being faithful and correct and consistent use of condoms. We should raise awareness about the benefits of HIV testing, treatment and drug adherence as a pathway to viral suppression.”
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