From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
More than 300,000 people are said to be living positively with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) with about 140,000 HIV patients undergoing treatment in Benue State.
Acting Country Programme Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Dr. Greg Abiaziem, who gave the figure, on Friday, in a chat with newsmen, in Makurdi, on the occasion of the World AIDS day celebration, also put the prevalence rate of the virus in the state at 15.4 percent.
While describing the development as unacceptable, Abuaziem said it was consequent upon that that his organisation had been working hard in 10 local government areas of the state in collaboration with the state government to tackle the epidemic and bring down the figure.
“Benue state where we are working and with the current national survey carried out in 2014, ranked highest with 15.4 percent which is unacceptably high. We have over 300, 000 people living with HIV and AIDS. Out of this number, 140, 000 HIV patients are currently undergoing treatment in the state.
“That is why we are working hard as stakeholders to bring the figure down. Government must put more funds into HIV project to keep the service going to reduce prevalence. The adolescents girl are the most vulnerable and we need to reach out to them,” he said.
He stated further that there was need to urgently intensify efforts at bridging the gap following the 2016 statistics which put the global death record from HIV/AIDS at one million while two million new infection was revorded across the world with in 2016 alone with 20 million persons currently without treatment.
The acting Country Programme Manager added that the status of people most vulnerable to the scourge had shifted to the adolescents with the key population being Men Sleeping with Men (MSM) as he noted that despite challenges ahead, the AHF in collaboration with the state’s agency on AIDS control had made huge success in the sector by reducing the size and impact of the epidemic in the state.
Abiaziem restated the commitment of the Foundation to continue to do its best to expand coverage and access to HIV testing and treatment in the state, stresding that this year’s World AIDS Day was meant to create awareness and launch fast track initiatives to undergo testing and counselling which is an avenue to reach out to the populace so that they can come out and know their status.