Monday, 29th May 2023
<To guardian.ng
Search

NACA blames rise in HIV/AIDS death on failure to take medication

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
26 January 2023   |   3:13 am
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, has said failure to take medication is responsible for the number of deaths the country is recording now from Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, has said failure to take medication is responsible for the number of deaths the country is recording now from Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Aliyu said HIV/AIDS is one of the longest epidemic in human history that has defiled herbal scientific solution to wipe away once and for all but, the scientific world has found solution around HIV through the development of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), which work by stopping the virus replicating in the body.

Speaking at the yearly media dinner with health journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, Aliyu said by failing to take medication or taking it haphazardly, people living with HIV virus develop resistant virus, which no longer respond to ARVs.

He said: “Because they don’t take the medication or they take it haphazardly, the virus has proven resistant, it doesn’t sense the drug and what is happening? It is ravaging in them, its showing in their face and its killing them and they are transmitting the resistant virus to other people. Those who get newly infected with a resistant strain of the virus, our medication do not work on these individuals, and they will also show manifestations of HIV.”

The NACA boss observed that Nigeria is at the verge of controlling HIV but there is a little barrier, that barrier is the inequalities in access to services.

According to him, “Some people don’t have access to HIV services or are denied the access because of our attitude towards them, adding that it is totally unfair to stigmatise or marginalise people living with HIV/AIDS, because we have come to the age where they can keep the virus in them without infecting anyone. They can also keep the virus in then without the virus showing on their faces and certainly without the virus taking them to an early grave; this is the condition as long as they take their medications and they are faithful with them. So, there should be no room for stigmatisation and marginalisation, we have to change our attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDS. The last time I asked someone, when last did you hear one of your neighbours died of HIV? he said, I can’t remember. When last did you see someone and they tell you the person has AIDS? he said he can’t remember. I said, ‘do you know the secret behind that?’ The secret behind it is that while we do not have cure for HIV yet, but we succeeded in keeping HIV within people that have it.

“Whoever stigmatises, whoever denies people with HIV/AIDS access, whoever marginalises them, you got the weapon, because you got the trumpet, when you blow it, everyone listens. When you see stigmatisation, when you see marginalisation, when people are denied access to HIV services, when you see people extorting patients, taking money were money should not be taken, alert us, blow the whistle, we will be there and we will make sure those individuals pay. You can get jailed if you stigmatise, marginalise, disclose information without a tradition, you can be fined, you can have both. If we succeed in getting people to cross that stigma and marginalisation barrier, it is going to be bold enough to come out and demand for HIV services. You can come forward and say, ‘I want to test for HIV, I want to know my status’, because they feel safe and comfortable, they feel that they can do that without been stigmatized.

The day we reach that milestone will be the end of HIV in Nigeria, because now our estimate is that there are individuals out there that are spreading the virus, because they don’t come to test, and they don’t know their status and is only when we know your status that we get to keep the virus in you. If you don’t know your status, you will keep giving the virus to others and the virus will grow to kill you, this is the second unfortunate thing. These individuals that don’t have access to our services or they have access but they are denied, they can’t come forward to know about their HIV status.

These are the people we want you to get for us; these are more important ones among the key affected population. People whose business is trading sex, men who have sex with men, the transgender, the incarcerated, people who are just vulnerable because they are deprived economically, people who are in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, people who are in unfortunate situations that makes them vulnerable, let them know there is something called HIV/AIDS and they are at greater risk of getting this virus. To make sure they protect themselves and they protect their loved ones, they need to first, demand to know their HIV status, and this is free.

In this article