Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that there were about 1.6 million Nigerian people living with HIV (PLHIV) under treatment.
Ehanire said this at the dissemination of Survey Report on Nigeria People Living with HIV (PLHIV) Stigma Index 2.0 survey by Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in Abuja.
The minister who was represented by Dr Akudo Ikpeazu, of the Federal Ministry of Health, said that they had made remarkable achievements in the last five years of the fight against HIV.
He identified stigma and discrimination as major barriers to the fight against the spread of HIV in the country.
Ehanire, who congratulated people living with HIV on their courage even in the face of stigma, reiterated the commitment of the ministry to ending HIV by 2030.
“As we push towards reaching the last and ensuring that no one is left behind, HIV stigma is the biggest hindrance to achieving HIV-free society,” he said.
Dr Gambo Aliyu, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), described stigma and discrimination as big barriers in the identification of people living with HIV.
Aliyu said that the fight against HIV could not be completely won without eradicating stigma and discrimination.
He commended the effort of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in the reduction of stigma and assured of NACA’s support.
The NACA boss asserted that the agency under his watch had in the last 18 months gotten wider access to individuals living with HIV and bringing them closer for care and treatment.
He, however, urged all to look at the content of the survey and ensure they inform everyone’s decision.
Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN), said that the essence of the dissemination was to unveil the elements that trigger stigma and discrimination in the public domain.
Ibrahim, who decried stigma and discrimination, said they were instrumental to a number of verbal assaults and depression of people living with HIV.
According to him, if stigma and discrimination are not tackled, achieving HIV free nation by 2030 would be difficult.
Dr Erasmus Morah, Country Director, UN Joint Action on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), expressed hope that the findings from the survey would be used effectively in various interventions.
Morah, represented by Dr Takpa Koubagnine, assured of UNAIDS’ continued support in ensuring NEPWHAN’s access to quality healthcare services.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stigma index survey 2.0 Report is aimed at measuring the stigma and discrimination experiences of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria.
The survey findings would be used to inform HIV programming priorities as the global and national HIV responses enter new phases of strategic planning and resource prioritisation. (NAN)