Dr Lanre Olayiwola, the HIV Technical Lead, Caritas Nigeria, an NGO, has cautioned against not diagnosing or delay in diagnosing of HIV in children in the country.
Olayiwola gave the advice on Thursday in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, while presenting a paper on Basic Scientific Information on paediatric HIV at the two-day training on paediatric HIV for religious leaders organised by the NGO.
He listed the implication of not diagnosing or delay diagnosis of HIV in children to include delay in commencement of treatment, disease progression, disease transmission, frequent illness (frequent visit to hospital and prayer houses), financial and emotional burden on the family, among others.
Olayiwola also urged the people, especially children, to diagnosis of HIV on time and listed the benefits of early diagnosis of HIV in children to include healthy disease free children, central to the global goals of epidemic control, immense cost saving, hope for a AIDS Free future generation, among others.
According to him, difficulty in diagnosis, maternal antibody, window period, unavailability of point of care testing, long turn around time of test result, less emphasis on active case finding among children are some reasons why HIV in children usually go unnoticed.
Others include poor access to healthcare services, inadequate capacity of healthcare workers to manage paediatric HIV/AIDS, poverty, fear, stigma and discrimination.
He called on the religious leaders to continue to educate their followers on the need to know their HIV status in the interest of their health and for the overall development of the country.
The expert urged the people to avoid risky behaviour and avoid things that would make them contact HIV/AIDs and other diseases.
He said that HIV/AIDS can be contacted through unscreened blood transfusion, blood transfusion, use of unsterilised sharps during circumcision, scarification, sharing of sharp objects like razors and needles, female genital mutilation and rape.
Participants of the workshop were Catholic priests, Reverend Sisters and other critical stakeholders drawn from Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue States as well as FCT, Abuja.