Dr Kehinde Fatungase, the Executive Secretary, Ogun State Agency for the Control of AIDS (OGUNSACA), stated this at a news conference to commemorate the 2019 World AIDS Day, with the theme: “Communities Make the Difference”, in Abeokuta.
He noted that communities had major roles to play in the elimination of the epidemic in the state.
According to him, a community has to do with a social group of any size, whose members reside in specific localities and often have common cultural and historical heritage.
“The 2019 World AIDS day reminds us of an opportunity to harness the power of people and communities to control the spread of the HIV virus, as it remains the only way to ensure that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 in Nigeria is possible,” he said.
Fatungase disclosed that the state had the highest prevalence in the South- West, at 1.6 percent (NARHS, 2018), saying that this was above the national prevalence rate.
He added that approximately 150,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in Nigeria in 2017, with seven states, including Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Lagos, Oyo and Kano accounting for 50 percent of people living with HIV.
The executive secretary further said that for the state to achieve the viral suppression of HIV, it had adopted a strategy, described as 90-90-90 to control the HIV transmission in the state.
Analysing this, he said: “90 percent of all people living with HIV will ensure that they know their status, with 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy.
“The last 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy have sustained viral suppression”.
He maintained that efforts must be geared towards continually placing people and communities first through raising awareness on prevention.
Fatungase noted that discrimination and ensuring gap between people with access to HIV services and people being left behind should also be reduced.
Earlier in his address, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Adesanya Ayinde, said that the country had been battling with the virus since 1984, until 10 years ago when anti-retroviral therapy was introduced to reduce the menace.
He said that it was regrettable that the virus was also common among pregnant women, with their unborn babies usually affected, urging people to know their status so as not to infect others unconsciously.
Ayinde advised people to shun discrimination against people living with the virus, saying it could not be contacted through shaking of hands or eating together.
He said that the state government was doing everything possible to eliminate the scourge of the epidemic by working together with all the relevant agencies in the state.
Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq