HIV/AIDS: OgunSACA boss advises Nigerians on stigmatisation

More Nigerians would feel free to undertake voluntary counseling and testing of their HIV status and when discovered to be positive, would come out openly to declare such status if they are sure others in the community would not discriminate against them, but give support, love and care for them at all times.

Director, Ogun State Agency for Control of AIDS (OgunSACA), Dr Kehinde Fatungase, made this submission in Ikenne, while kicking off a free and voluntary testing and counseling programme of the agency.

 Fatungase who asserted in a release signed by the Information Officer, OgunSACA, Deborah Odulate, that the greatest challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly in the third world remained the twin problem of discrimination and stigmatisation, explained that being HIV positive was not a death sentence, but an opportunity for such people to make better choices and embrace healthy habits that would prevent further spread of the disease.

He said when supported, shown love and care, people living with HIV could live active and productive life, would not lose purpose for living and be fatalistic about life, but take steps necessary to take care of themselves and prevent outbreak of full blown AIDS.

“Being HIV positive is not a death sentence. We should therefore avoid discriminating and stigmatising people living positively, doing so will make them feel unwanted and cause them to lose the desire to live. Let us show them love as people living with HIV can also live long  and productive life,” Fatungase added.

The OgunSACA boss recalled that his agency had already forwarded an anti-stigma bill to the state House of Assembly, expressing hope that  when eventually passed into law and enforced, it would  protect the rights of such people against stigma and discrimination.

He reminded that means of contacting the virus included sharing of sharp unsterilised objects; having unprotected sex and engaging in transfusion of unscreened blood, dismissing the myth  that HIV could be contacted by sharing utensils, hugging and talking to an infected person.

Other highlights of the programme were free HIV counseling and testing, distribution of male and female condoms, as well as behavioural change communication materials such as fliers and handbills

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