HIV was discovered in 1984 and since then, millions of people have died from AIDS. According to the World Health Organization (2015), over 36 million people are living with the virus worldwide and several interventions have been put in place to ensure that those infected with the virus can lead normal lives.
In Nigeria, a lot of indigenous and international organizations work to ensure prevention, treatment and management services are available in both the urban and rural areas. These include services to ensure the use of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) – a combination of drugs to ensure that the growth of the virus is prevented, slowing its progression, thereby slowing the disease. Other interventions include the formation of support groups to help patients share challenges and a lot of positive ideas.
Another wonderful intervention is the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme which ensures that mothers do not transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards; thereby preserving future generations. This helps decrease morbidity and mortality due to HIV in infants.
A huge challenge is stigmatization, which makes people avoid those infected with the virus for fear of contracting same. Another is non-adherence to treatment. Sometimes patients get frustrated and as a result of inadequate funds and access to treatment centers, a lot of them give up; some others get into denial or bouts of hopelessness and stop taking their medication. Ignorance also poses a serious threat because people who lack information are prone to believe anything they are told, including the misconception that everyone with HIV/AIDS must die.
The 1st of December is a day set aside globally to remember those who have passed, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, and create awareness on HIV prevention and for most civil societies, it serves as a way to recommitting to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat. A lot of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)and government establishments are holding rallies to support people living with HIV/AIDS and also to enlighten the general public on HIV prevention. They are also encouraging people to stop stigmatization and suggesting ways through which support can be given to people living with HIV/AIDS.
This year with theme “Hands Up for HIV Prevention,” HIFASS conducted a one day community outreach in the Jahi community (Kado Kuchi) AMAC, FCT with Health Talks, HIV Testing, and Distribution of Condoms and IEC materials. Also the HIFASS-LOPIN 3 in conjunction with other implementing organizations like FHI 360, Mediatrix, Lafarge, Pathfinder and Heartland Alliance organised a long walk creating awareness on HIV as well as HIV Testing in Calabar, Cross river state.
Written by: Omonefe Oisedebamen Eruotor
References- Worldaidsday.org, WHO data site(http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.22100WHO), https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/prevention-mother-child-transmission-pmtct, http://www.emtct-iatt.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Nigeria_National-PMTCT-Guidelines_2010.pdf, http://www.thebody.com/content/art6114.html