World Aids Day: Gombe State To Increase Community Testing Of Pregnant Women
AREWA AGENDA – The Gombe State Government says it is increasing community testing of pregnant women and creating awareness in rural communities.
The Gombe State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Habu Dahiru, stated during a briefing to mark the 2022 World AIDS Day, that the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission would be strengthened, by re-strategizing the response to HIV among young and adolescent people, as well as interventions against stigma and discrimination to people living with HIV.
He says Gombe State is winning the battle against HIV, with considerable improvements in the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV patients.
“We successfully reduced HIV prevalence from a peak of 5.8% in 2006 to 1.2% in 2021. Today, we have an estimated 43 thousand people living with HIV in the state, out of which, we have identified and placed close to 70% (30 thousand) persons living with HIV on life-saving antiretroviral drugs. We are also gradually closing the unmet need gap for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission,” said Dr. Dahiru.
He attributed the successes recorded to the combined hard work and devotion of the State Government in collaboration with local government institutions, development partners, UN systems, the Global Fund and Civil society organizations, among others.
However, the Gombe State Commissioner for Health said there were some gaps still left to be closed, such as the high rate of new infections, particularly among young individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, noting that girls are more vulnerable.
’’Women, as a whole, remain disproportionately affected by HIV. The rate of Mother to Child transmission of HIV in the State is still unacceptably high. While best practices from around the world have revealed that for Gombe State to control her epidemic(s), the response must quickly identify every person living with the virus, link, and care for them, and keep them in care until the virus is suppressed, thereby interrupting further transmission, and controlling the epidemic.’’ said Dr. Dahiru.
He said the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day “End inequalities, End AIDS”, highlighted the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services, particularly for children, youth, key populations and women which were holding back progress in ending AIDS.
The commissioner, however, said although the HIV response in the state had received a lot of support from donors, it had been declining.
Dr. Dahiru said the Gombe State Government, under Governor Mohammadu Yahaya, had prioritized the health sector, including HIV responses, by allocating additional funds for the purchase of HIV testing kits, drugs for the treatment of opportunistic infections, laboratory reagents, and so on.
“As a result, domestic HIV funding has more than doubled since the administration took office in 2019,” Dr. Dahiru said.
To win the battle against HIV/AIDS in the state, the Gombe State Commissioner of Health said behaviour modification remained critical, through continued deliberate sensitization on abstinence, being faithful and correct and consistent use of condoms. “Furthermore, we should raise awareness about the benefits of HIV testing, treatment, and drug adherence as a path to viral suppression,” said Dr. Dahiru.
He, therefore, urged the public to be responsible for preventing HIV/AIDS, because it was not just the responsibility of Government officials or health professionals.
“As a father, mother, community member, leader, activist, in whatever capacity you may be, it is only when we join hands together in solidarity and share the responsibility that we will End AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Conscious attempts should be made to reach out to the young generation with messaging via social media,” said the Gombe State Commissioner for Health.
He said the first step was in getting tested and then taking the treatment.
“When a person with HIV is diagnosed early, they are started on treatment right away, and if they stick to it, they will achieve viral suppression, making them less likely to transmit HIV. This will make a significant contribution to our state’s aim of eliminating AIDS by 2030. As a result, I advise all Gombe residents to get tested for HIV because treatment is both available and free,” Dr. Dahiru said.
He said the Gombe State Government was committed to addressing issues of women and children, resuscitation of the health care sector and optimal control of HIV and AIDS.
Dr. Dahiru said the Gombe State Government was unveiling a simplified version of the HIV anti-discrimination law, as a demonstration of the government’s commitment to ENDING THE AIDS EPIDEMIC BY 2030.
Credit: Voice of Nigeria