Rivers State: HIV Prevalence Rates Prompt Concerns for People Living with HIV

Rivers State: HIV Prevalence Rates Prompt Concerns for People Living with HIV

Rivers State is among the most prevalent State for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh made this known to mark World Aids Day. She said the 2018 National AIDS indicator and expert survey by the Federal Ministry of Health with Maryland University US, placed Rivers State as the 3rd highest State after Akwa Ibom and Benue State. She explained that it represents a drop from the previous value of 16.2% prevalence in 2010 and that the large number of estimated people living with HIV requires humongous effort to achieve the epidemic control presently in the State. She revealed that It is estimated that 95% of people living with HIV are aware of their HIV status, 98% are on treatment, 85% are virally suppressed, and are receiving treatment in about 116 facilities across the State due to the effort of the Rivers State Government to reduce the virus.

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In the meantime, the Rivers State Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria Blessing Chigoziem says that the recent economic realities are affecting people living with the virus. Mrs. Chigoziem tells our reporters that most people living with the virus do not have transport fares to pick up their medications from health centers. She explained that in as much as the drugs are given free of charge, there is a need for the renal drugs to be taken with food and some of them do not have the food due to the economic situation we are facing in the country, and can’t take the drugs as a result. Adding that, in most cases, the victims use their money to ensure that the company facilitates them to pick up their drugs. She also said that if they can be empowered it can sustain them better to ensure that they care for their health because there might be underlying issues of health that they need to undergo. Stating that when there is no finance, it will not be easy for them. Mrs. Chigoziem however, urges Rivers people to get tested for the virus. Adding that they are deeply concerned about the persons who are yet to know their status, who are stigmatized, or who have suffered disabilities as a result of this epidemic.

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Meanwhile, Felix Opusunju who had been living with HIV for about 19 years shared his story with our reporters. He said he always encourage people facing the challenge. He explained that people that were against him initially now come to him. Adding that he is beginning to be a role model to people with the challenge. He said some people die out of ignorance. He therefore urges the organisation in charge to come in and let people know that HIV is not a spiritual issue.