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Group calls on Gov Emmanuel to sign HIV/AIDS anti-stigma bill

A group, Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASWHAN) has called on Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel to sign into law, the HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigmatization and Discrimination Bill awaiting his assent.

The State Coordinator, Mrs. Rachael Ignatius said the call became necessary following prevalence of new infection in the State and for a healthy future.

Ignatius stated this on Friday during a four-day training workshop on the Domestication of the National HIV Self Testing (HIVST) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) communication strategy organised by Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA) in collaboration with the HIV Media Advocacy Platform.

She noted that the bill was passed by the State House of Assembly last year but was yet to be assented to by Governor Emmanuel, adding that the delay had brought negative impact on HIV/AIDS response in the State.

Also speaking, Mr. Nnamnso-owo Thomas, a representative of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), South South Zonal Coordinator, said that Akwa Ibom, according to 2018 NAIIS reports, remained “top on HIV AIDS prevalence in the country, with 5.5 percent, representing 178,051 of 5,451,600 population.”

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He added, “MoT study 2020 revealed that Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Benue, Anambra, Imo and Lagos States accounted more of Nigeria’s new HIV infection.”

Earlier, the Project Manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA), Dr Igbemi Igbemi in his opening remark noted that the Anti-Stigmatization and Discrimination Bill if assented to, would reduce stigmatization, adding that the HIV Self Testing (HIVST) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) were innovations aimed at tackling HIV/AIDS.

The chairperson of Akwa Ibom HIV Media Advocacy Platform, Imaobong Dem called for vigorous awareness on the prevention of the spread of the virus, even as she blamed HIV situation on behavioural causes.

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