HIV/AIDS: Faith communities unite over stigmatisation

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HIV/AIDS

Faith communities across the country have united for elimination of stigmatisation against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Mr Charles Usie, the Country Director, Christian AID, called for an end to stigma against persons living with HIV, which he said was imperative in reducing the spread of the virus. Usie, who stressed the need for increased public concern and commitment on the trauma of stigma, called for urgent end to discrimination against persons living with HIV.

He emphasised the need to engage religious leaders in the elimination of stigma and discrimination against persons living with the condition. The country director wondered why HIV/AID was not accorded the attention required by stakeholders as COVID-19.

“Why is HIV not getting the general concern it deserves? Thousands are still living with the condition which has no cure as yet and killing people.  If we can get to a stage where stigma around HIV will be removed like COVID-19, where a big man or woman will publicly announce his or her status without fear of being stigmatised, it will be great.”

Mr Gabriel Udelikwuo, the Representative of UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDs (UNAIDS) described  stigma and discrimination as the biggest barriers to ending HIV/AIDS cases. Udelikwuo said that stigma and discrimination were capable of hindering persons living with HIV the uptake of treatment services because of fear of marginalisation.

Mr Ikenna Nwakanma, the Monitoring and Evaluation officer of Nigeria Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA) emphasised the need for an end to stigma and discrimination. Nwakanma urged religious bodies to begin to de-emphasise the discriminatory acts or practices against persons living with HIV.

It was gathered that the faith-based dialogue for elimination of stigma against persons living with HIV/AIDS was organised by NINERELA in collaboration with President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UN Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS).

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