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World Aids Day: Do you know your status?

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DECEMBER 1st, every year is a day designated for raising awareness of the pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

This day is being observed often by government, health officials, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and individuals around the world on prevention and control.

Statistics shows that Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and one of the highest rates of new infection in Sub-Sahara Africa. As at 2017, 3.1 million people were living with HIV.

Findings have shown that estimated around two-third of new HIV infections in West and Central Africa in 2017 occurred in Nigeria. Unprotected, heterosexual sex accounts for 80 percent of new infectious in Nigeria, with the majority of remaining HIV infections occurring in key affected populations such as sex workers.

It’s on record that six states in Nigeria account for 41 percent of people living with HIV, including Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Lagos, Oyo, and Kano. HIV prevalence is highest in Nigeria’s southern states (Known as the South South Zone) and stands at 5.5 percent. It is lowest in the South East Zone, where there is a prevalence of 1.8 percent. There are higher rates of HIV in rural area with four percent than in urban ones that have three percent.

Unfortunately, many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status which is why Nigeria continues to fall short of providing the recommended number of HIV testing and counseling sites.

According to Dr. Febian, low level of access to anti retroviral treatment remains an issue for people living with HIV, meaning that there are still many AIDS related deaths in Nigeria.

Shockingly, Nigeria accounted for 37,000 of the world’s 160,000 new cases of babies born with HIV in 2016. In the same year, 24,000 children died of AIDS.

Approximately 15,000 people died from AIDS related illnesses in Nigeria in 2017. Since 2005, the reduction in the number of annual AIDS related deaths has been minimal, indication of the fact that only 33 percent of those with a positive diagnosis in Nigeria are ccessing Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART).

Speaking to some youths in the street of Awka, responses show that many people are scared of knowing there HIV status.

Mrs  Nkoli Eze, a Nurse, said, ” It is safer for an individual to know if they are negative or positive because it will be to their advantage.

“Running away from knowing your status is not the solution. Even if one has the various, there are drugs to be taken. Living with the virus and not knowing is not advisable.

Kelvin Igwe, on his part, said, “Discrimination on those living with the virus is high which is one of the reasons most people hide or don’t want to know there status. He frowned at those who intentionally share and spread the virus, stating that it is pure wickedness.

A patient with the virus, who does not want his name to be mentioned, disclosed that even though he feel depressed sometimes, he still goes ahead with his normal life. He emphasized that life goes on, insisting that having HIV and AIDS is not the end of life. He encouraged Nigerians to talk the bold step by knowing there status.

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