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AKSACA seeks domestication of HIV anti-stigmatization law in Akwa Ibom

Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA) has urged Governor Umo Eno to assent to the anti-stigmatization and discrimination law passed by the State House of Assembly.

The Manager of AKSACA, Dr Enobong Akpan who made the call in Uyo during a sensitization programme on HIV/AIDS with the theme, “Arise against HIV/AIDS” in commemoration of the state’s 36th anniversary said the agency would ensure that stigmatization against people living with HIV/AIDS is eradicated in the state.

He expressed hope that Governor Eno would assent to the Anti-Stigma law before him, as it is in tandem with his “ARISE agenda” on quality health care delivery.

Akpan also encouraged people living with HIV/AIDS to shun every form of self-stigmatization, describing it as the worst form of denial.

He said, “With renewed vigour and passion we will sound high the message that HIV is never a death sentence and we are going to fight against every form of discrimination or stigmatization. We are going to pursue the necessary laws, the anti-stigma law and all the laws to make sure any organisation or institution found to stigmatize an HIV-positive person will face sanctions.

“Our amiable governor is very desirous in his ARISE agenda that every morbidity associated with HIV will be a thing of the past.”

Akpan, however, regretted the high prevalence of HIV in the state, insisting the figures were running to the tune of over 240, 000.

He maintained that HIV is not a death sentence, as it could be treated with Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) which is available at secondary health facilities and health centres in the state.

Dr Edith Mathias, giving an insight into the HIV situation in Akwa Ibom said women are recording high prevalence and called for more awareness.

She explained that the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHSof 2018, reported that females experienced stigma more than men with a percentage of 61 while just 38% of men reported stigma

Also, one of the implementing partners, Gideon Solomon of Heartland Alliance encouraged the people to know their status consistently, get their HIV personal test kits, and their medications if they test positive or follow the prevention procedures religiously if they estd negative for the virus.