Leadership (Abuja)

1 December 2012

Nigeria: Gombe Govt Strives to Attain Zero HIV Infections - Commissioner

The Gombe State Government says that it will strive to achieve zero HIV infections in the state in the coming years.

Dr Kennedy Ishaya, the Commissioner of Health, said this on Friday at a news conference held on the 2012 World AIDS Day in Gombe.

"Nigeria and, indeed, Gombe State will continuously strive to achieve zero HIV infections over the coming years," he said.

Ishaya said that the focus for this year's AIDS Day campaign was partly on how to ensure ownership and sustainability of HIV and AIDS programmes.

He said that this involved mobilising resources to fill the huge gap in response patterns, while giving major emphasis to expanding the people's access to treatment.

He said that many deaths within the past 10 years were AIDS-related, adding that the ages of those who succumbed to the disease ranged between 15 and 44 years.

The commissioner noted that theme of the World AIDS Day was: "Getting to zero", adding that it referred to "zero new HIV infections, zero discriminations and zero AIDS-related deaths.

"The theme seeks to encourage individuals and communities to adopt a non-discriminatory and non-judgmental approach to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support," he said.

Ishaya said that in line with the national and international resolutions and strategies, Gombe State was eager to achieve a reduction in HIV prevalence among young people and sex workers.

"This is possible, as HIV counselling and testing services are freely available at most government facilities.

"Counselling and testing are essential so that people who are affected can know their status, seek care and increase their knowledge on how to change their behaviours to prevent transmission of the virus to others.

"Special attention would be given to people living with HIV who also have tuberculosis (TB); while deaths arising from TB among people with HIV must be reduced.

"People living with HIV and households affected by HIV will be addressed in all social protection strategies and they will have access to essential care support," he said.

Ishaya, however, urged the communities to actively participate in efforts to render assistance to people living with HIV.

"They should also initiate fund-raising initiatives to raise money to support the services and help the poor.

"We are now trying to open up the society to know what they are supposed to do; the affluent should also play a role in the society.

"The wealthy people should be able to pay extra tax to support some of the HIV and AIDS programmes," he said

He said that the government also planned to reduce its dependence on development partners for the finance of the programmes.

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