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Deltans Urged To Join In Fighting HIV/AIDS Scourge

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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As part of measures to address the scourge of HIV AIDS in Delta State, more Primary Health Care Centres have been activated to scale up the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye made this known in Asaba in his speech to mark the 2019 World AIDS Day.

According to the Commissioner, more emphasis is also being placed on providing care to children and the adolescents living with the HIV and to prevent new infections.

He revealed that as a result of the State Government's partnership with Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) more adhoc staff have been engaged that have helped extended HIV counseling and testing services to communities.

Dr. Ononye stated that due to the importance attached to the fight against AIDS, the World Health Organization declared every December 1 as the day set aside to mark the World AIDS Day which is one of it's eight official global public health campaign.

The Day avails the world community the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and commiserate with those that died from AIDS-related illness.

The theme: "Communities make the difference" was chosen to help recognize the essential role that communities played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.

Reeling out statistics on the disease spread, Dr. Ononye stated that report from UNAIDS 2019 has it that as at 2018, 37.9 million people globally were living with HIV and about 1.7 million people became newly infected while about 8.1 million people worldwide did not know their status and only 79% of all people living with HIV knew their HIV status.

He further stated that a total of 32 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

In Nigeria, the 2018 Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey revealed that 1.9 million people are living with HIV in the country and the national prevalence is 1.4% compared to the State prevalence of 1.9% while the report further stated that 130,000 people were newly infected with HIV in Nigeria of which 53,000 people had died from AIDS-related illness.

The Report also showed that 67% of people living with HIV knew their status, 53% of people living with HIV were on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) while 42% of people living with HIV achieved viral suppression.

Coming closer home, Delta state has a prevalence of 1.9% which has an estimated burden of 63,000 people living with HIV and of, these, it is estimated that close to 46,000 have an unmet need for life-saving antiretroviral therapy and this has necessitated the need for a mix of interventions that can reduce this gap and ensure that most patients initiated on therapy, remain on therapy and achieve viral load suppression in line with the UNAIDS laid out 90-90-90 targets.

Commissioner Ononye called on those living in the rural communities to cooperate with the community counselors and testers so that we can together end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.