THE Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, on Saturday called on Nigerians to get tested to enable them know their HIV status.
Aliyu made the call in Abuja during a Road Walk organised by AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), to commemorate 2018 World AIDS Day.
The theme of this year’s activity is “Know Your Status’’.
He said that the Day, which was commemorated annually on Dec. 1, gave the opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and to show support for people living with the virus.
He added that the day was also set aside to enable everyone to know their status and to fight against stigmatization and discrimination.
“World AIDS Day is observed on Dec.1 globally. I had my test a few days ago and I encourage everyone to get tested to know their status.
“You are our constituency, you are our people and we are here to support you,” he said.
Dr Uche Okoro, Project Manager, Agency for the Control of AIDS in the Federal Capital Territory, said that the Day was set aside to create awareness on HIV and AIDS.
Okoro recalled that in 2016, no fewer than 1.4 million people were tested and became aware of their HIV status.
He said that the Day offered an opportunity to highlight the success of worldwide efforts to combat HIV and AIDS as well as the importance of continued support to end the scourge in 2030.
“Nigeria is a global signatory to end AIDS in 2030, which means that every Nigerian that is positive must be placed on treatment and that is why this year, the theme is `know your status’.
“Knowing your status is the entry point of accessing HIV services and those who turn positive are given anti-retroviral drugs free of charge.
“Nigeria can contribute to the aspiration of ending AIDS in 2030 as we encourage everyone to know their status and we are determined not to leave anyone behind.
“In FCT, we have over 360 sites where residents can get tested across the area councils, 160 sites providing drugs and 350 sites for pregnant women for prevention of mother to child transmission all free of charge,’’ he said.
The Country Program Director, AHF, Dr Echey Ijezie, said it was 30 years of commemorating World AIDS Day globally, adding that only about 38 per cent of Nigerians were aware of their status.
“Globally and in Nigeria, there are several millions of people who are HIV positive and do not know their status.
“ We encourage all Nigerians to get tested as a large proportion was still not aware of their status.
“At AHF, we conducting HIV screening for about 50,000 Nigerians and distributing about 300,000 condoms across the six states where we operate in commemoration of the day,’’ he said.
Ijezie appreciated the Federal Government’s effort through the Federal Ministry of Health and the NACA and other stakeholders in the fight against HIV and AIDS.