About 1.6 million Nigerians living with HIV (PLHIV) are under treatment. Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire disclosed this during the release of the Report on Nigeria People Living with HIV
(PLHIV) Stigma Index 2.0 survey by Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in Abuja.
In his statement, he stated that remarkable achievements have been accomplished in the past five years in the fight against HIV. Stigma and discrimination were mentioned as major barriers in the fight against the spread of HIV in the country.
“As we push towards reaching the last and ensuring that no one is left behind, HIV stigma is the biggest hindrance to achieving HIV-free society,” he said.
While congratulating people living with HIV (PLHIV) on their courage even in the face of stigma, the minister reiterated the commitment of the health ministry to ending HIV by 2030.
The Director-General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Gambo Aliyu at the event also described stigma and discrimination as the biggest barriers in the identification of people living with HIV.
Aliyu also noted that the fight against HIV could not be completely won without eradicating stigma and discrimination.
He commended the effort of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in their stride to reduce stigmatization and assured of NACA’s support.
The NACA boss asserted that the agency under his watch had in the last 18 months gotten increased access to individuals living with HIV and bringing them closer for care and treatment.
He, however, urged all to look at the content of the survey and ensure they inform everyone’s decision.
In his remarks, National Coordinator Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN), Abdulkadir Ibrahim said that the essence of the dissemination was to unveil the elements that trigger stigma and discrimination in the public domain.
Ibrahim also described stigma and discrimination as being instrumental to a number of verbal assaults and depression of NEPWHAN .
According to him, if stigma and discrimination are not tackled, achieving HIV free nation by 2030 would be difficult.
Country Director, UN Joint Action on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Erasmus Morah expressed hope that the deductions from the survey would be used effectively in various interventions.
He assured of UNAIDS’ continued support in ensuring NEPWHAN’s access to quality healthcare services.