As part of events marking the 2014 World AIDS Day (WAD) celebrations today (Monday, December 1, 2014), the Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA), has called on stakeholders across the state to focus on two key areas in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The Executive Director of RIVSACA, Dr. Chimezie Okeh, who identified the two areas, said they would lead to a more positive drive in the state’s quest to check its HIV burden.
The areas, according to Dr. Okeh, are stakeholders’ recognition of the persistent high burden of HIV in the state, and joining hands in collaborative efforts to fight the war against the pandemic.
While noting the key drivers of HIV/AIDS in the state to include multiple partner sex, casual sex, and infidelity, the RIVSACA boss also emphasized on the role of stiatization and descrimination which enhances high HIV/AIDS burden in accordance with the theme of WAD 2014.
Dr. Okeh explained that the national theme for the WAD 2014, “Close the Gap: No More Stigma and Descrimination”, is a reminder “of the unfortunate gab of stigmatization and desacrimination against people living with the virus, the consequences of stigma on the infected, and the role of stigma in encouraging denial and facilitating the continued spread of HIV”.
Dr. Okeh also noted that the sub-theme, “Take Charge: Know Your HIV Status”, further re-emphasized the need for everyone to take HIV test and know their status, saying that, “this is key to prevention of further spread and global quality of life for those infected”.
Emphasizing on the driving factors of the pandemic to include multiple partner sex, casual sex, and marrital infidelity, he stated that RIVSACA has lined up series of acrivities for this year’s WAD celebration.
They include: mobilization of churches and mosques to mainstream stigma associated with HIV, and encourage HIV Testing in all the 23 local government areas (LGAs) of the state; and massive outreach HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) in 100 wards across the 23 loal government areas.
Others are creation of interactive forum/donation of food items and to support people living with the virus, as well as promotion and distribution of male and female condoms.
A special WAD service to kickstart the celebrations was held yesterday at the St. Mathias Anglican Cathedral in Okomoko, Port Harcourt.