The Federal Ministry of Health has harmonised Survey findings to be used to strengthened National and global response in the fight against HIV.
The Minister who made the call in a message to the public presentation of the Nigeria People Living with HIV stigma index 2.0 survey report in Abuja, said the ministry would not leave any stone unturned to ensure issues bordering on stigmatization which prevent many from accessing care.
“The survey findings will serve as a strong tool for advocacy to relevant agencies and organs of government in dealing with stigma-related issues on HIV/AIDS and will also assist in identifying factors associated with experiences of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.”
He stressed that the government would improve on the prevention from mother to child transmission and children treatment for HIV.
In a remark, the Director-General National Agency for the Control of AIDs NACA Dr. Aliyu Gambo while commending the assistance of International donors in all the HIV/AIDs programme in Nigeria stressed that NACA would always do the needful to ensure the transmission is put to a halt.
“It is important to realise that in the last 20 years, in our effort to eradicate the prevalence of HIV, in identifying PLHIV, stigma has stood between us to make services available to them. It is a big barrier to our national HIV response.
“We cannot fight HIV to finish without fighting stigma. Our work on stigma and discrimination has worked and is working. Our services are getting impressive outcomes in the last 18 months. We now have wider access to PLHIV and bringing them into care. We are now closer to controlling HIV spread and transmission.
Earlier, the National Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDs in Nigeria NEPWHAN, Mr Ibrahim Abdulkadir said if all policies put in place were fully implemented to protect PLHIV and concerted effort to protect the community against stigma in the workplace.
Mr Abdulkadir appreciated all stakeholders in the fight against the virus said NEPWHAN would also intensify efforts to track and report on HIV-related stigma.
“All abuse of these are tied to lack of policy enforcement because HIV itself nobody is expected to be forced to have HIV tests. I also represent NEPWHAN at the NACA Board. In the recent policy review by NACA, we were able to make it very clear that no employee of any organisation or government institution should be forced to go and conduct HIV tests. “
“That should be eliminated because these are some of the things that fuel stigma and discrimination against employees living with HIV. We need to enforce some of these policies and make sure that we eliminate them. This will empower people to really come out publicly to access adequate services for their own health. Once a person is stigmatised, it affects the person’s will to go and access HIV services.”
The report targets 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), it highlights the stigma and discrimination from family members, health care workers, co-workers, others.