From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS In Nigeria (ASWHAN), has called on the government, national and international donors and the relevant stakeholders for inclusiveness of people living with HIV/AIDS in their investment programmes.

The State Coordinator of ASWHAN, Mrs Phina Ogbuagu made the call while
addressing Community Mentor Mothers in Umuahia, Abia State in commemoration of the year 2024 International Women’s Day.

Speaking under the Association’s theme, “Count Women Living With HIV In; Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment”, Ogbuagu equally called for support to the Association in the area of economic empowerment and building of skills acquisition centres, to enable it empower about 56 percent of their members.

The Association equally wants government at all levels to include women living with HIV in Social Investment Fund; Conditional Cash Transfers; Palliative distribution and also create employment opportunities for them.

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“ASWHAN is calling on donor partners to support us with funding and technical support to help build the capacities of our members especially the support groups at grassroots to enable them engage with their communities and to advocate for their rights.

“We call on Small and Medium Enterprise Organizations to include ASWHAN in their skills acquisition and economic empowerment programmes, to train our women on different business skills, support them with small grant to boost their businesses and support us to form cooperatives.

We want our women to be economically empowered. Women Living With HIV, WLWH are suffering with no source of income and are burdened with children and other dependents to take care of”.

Mrs Ogbuagu called on all relevant Government agencies to ensure domestication of anti stigma law and enforcement where need be, to protect the rights of WLWH, adding that gender equality has remained one of the greatest human rights challenge, women living with HIV experience in their daily affairs.

While also calling for the engagement of ASWHAN in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) program implementation and service delivery, Ogbuagu maintained that no child should be born with HIV, hence the urgent need to make ASWHAN the face of PMTCT in Nigeria to end mother to child transmission of HIV.