The 1st of December is World AIDS Day, a day set aside to remember those who have passed, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS and create awareness on HIV prevention.
HIV was discovered in 1984 and since then, millions of people have died as a result. According to the World Health Organization (2015), over 36 million people are living with the virus worldwide and several interventions have been put in place to ensure that these people can lead normal lives.
In Nigeria, a lot of local and international organizations work to ensure prevention, treatment and management services are available even in local communities. These include services to ensure the use of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) – a combination of drugs to ensure that the growth of the virus is prevented, slowing its progression, thereby slowing the disease. Other interventions include formation of support groups to help patients share challenges and a lot of positive ideas.
Another wonderful intervention is the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme which ensures that mothers do not transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards; thereby preserving future generations. This helps decrease morbidity and mortality due to HIV in infants.
A huge challenge is stigmatization, which makes people avoid those with the virus for fear of contracting same. Another is non-adherence to treatment. Sometimes patients get frustrated and as a result of inadequate funds and access to treatment centers, a lot of them give up; some others get into denial or bouts of hopelessness and stop taking their medication. Ignorance also poses a serious threat because people who lack information are prone to believe anything they are told, including the misconception that everyone with HIV/AIDS must die.
Today, a lot of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSO)and government establishments are holding rallies to support people living with HIV/AIDS and enlighten the general public on prevention. They are also encouraging people to stop stigmatization and suggesting ways through which support can be given to people living with HIV/AIDS.
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