By Chris Chimezie
Governments at the grassroots have been charged to support and have total commitment to the eradication of HIV/AIDS at the rural areas, as recent statistics by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS indicates that HIV prevalence is higher at the rural areas.
Secretary to the Ondo State Government and Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, stated this in Ilaje and Odigbo Local Government areas, during an advocacy and sensitization programme organised for expectant mothers, brothel owners, female sex workers, health workers, opinion leaders, community leaders and stakeholders in the rural areas, as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus in underdeveloped zones.
He said with the support of the World Bank, four civil society organisations, Women and Development Initiative, knowledge and care providers, Mellville Women Initiative and Global Help Trust Foundation have been empowered to create demand for HIV services, prevention of mother to child transmission, behaviour change among female sex workers, at various communities.
Adelola therefore thanked the people for their consistent support and contribution in the fight against HIV which is geared towards achieving zero HIV new infection, zero AIDS related death, zero discrimination and stigmatization of people living with the virus, while assuring the people that government will continue to partner stakeholders to prevent further spread of the deadly virus.
Corroborating his view, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Women Advancement and Development Initiative, Mrs. Flourence Ajiu, and the CEO, Mellville Women Initiative, Mrs. Modupe Adetula, said HIV is not a death sentence, as the government has provided free care, treatment and support to enable infected persons live a normal life.
They urged the people to know their HIV status and utilise government facilities, while appealing to sex workers to embrace behaviour change, correct and consistent use of condoms and other HIV prevention interventions.
The duo also appealed to pregnant women to access government hospitals and ensure they undergo HIV screening at least four times before delivery in order to protect the unborn child and strengthen the prevention of mother to child transmission of the virus.
Responding, the Chairman, Odigbo local government area, Mr. Raphael Ademulegun, assured the Agency of the people’s cooperation with the civil society organisations and all government machineries contracted to carry out the door to door HIV counselling and testing, prevent mother to child transmission of the virus, ensure behaviour change among female sex workers, increase HIV information access and create more demand for HIV services.
He said the people will be educated on the need to utilise government facilities in their domain and report any suspicious cases to the health officials or community volunteers in their neighbourhood.