Development Communications Network (DEVCOM) has called on organisations, key stakeholders and community leaders to take charge in the planning, decision making and active response to HIV/AIDS cases.
The Program Director, Akin Jimoh made the call in a press release marking the World AIDS day with the theme, “Communities make the difference”.
He said government in particular should support and acknowledge the efforts of community led organisations for the decline of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
According to the Program Director, the media plays a vital role in the spread of HIV/AIDS awareness, community drama, documentary and all other forms of entertainment which can serve as a channel for community change.
“So many people living with HIV/AIDS do not know their status and are not informed of the right measures that should be taken”.
Jimoh mentioned that, its the right of the community members to be informed and be aware of their HIV status, most importantly the youth.
“Everyone is important in making decisions, the commercial sex workers should be given the ideal sexual education and the importance of modern contraceptives- condom with clients”.
He advised that, an average youth should know the importance of family planning and the use of condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
“The right of each citizen to have sex and health education is important. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV during conception, delivery or through breastfeeding can only be prevented or reduced if people are informed. This is the main channel children get infected with HIV”.
Jimoh said, identifying some community leaders who are HIV positive as advocates to help spread the need for people to get tested, know their status and get treated if infected will help reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to being HIV positive.
“Many times, it is not the virus that kills people but the stigma. We have seen cases of people who are living healthy for over 10 to 15 years as HIV positive. These HIV advocates can be trained as caregivers in such a way that infected people can relate to”.
The National HIV prevalence in Nigeria is 1.4% among adults aged 15–49 years.
Previous estimates had indicated a prevalence of 2.8%.
UNAIDS and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS estimate that there are 1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria.