15 January 2013

Nigeria: NBTS Worries Over HIV Link With Blood Supply

Anti-HIV campaigners say programmes to reduce the spread of HIV are crucial to voluntary blood donations.

While people living with the virus are exempt from donating to ensure only safe blood gets into supply, campaigners on a sensitisation drive by the National Blood Transfusion Service to mark World AIDS Day at Jabi Motor Park in Abuja said the link between HIV and safe blood needs proper consideration as demand for blood far outstrips supply.

"When you talk to youths, they are more aware of what is going on. People are more careful about getting infected with all these diseases," said Ehigie Peter of donor recruitment department at NBTS. "You talk about safe blood to be administered to those in need of them."

Gladys Ehunda, head of advocacy, communication at special mobilisation of the federal health ministry's HIV and AIDS programme, said ongoing sensitisation is needed to create awareness to update knowledge on the diseases, insisting many still got uncertain information even though they had been hearing about HIV for long.

Ehunda said, "Some people think when you are HIV positive, it is a death sentence. The continuous message we give to people is to let them know someone is HIV-positive, there is still hope and so the issue of stigma and discrimination will be reduced."

Much of the mobilisation campaign has targeted communities around Abuja considered populated with mostly low income neighbourhoods, including Gishiri, Lokongoma, Mpape, Mabushi, and recently in more urban areas as Area One.

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