In order to change the status of Akwa Ibom from being the state with the highest number of persons with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, a non-governmental organization, Heartland Alliance LTD/ GTE has taken up the challenge of testing 422,000 people and treating 21,000 cases in the State.
Set up in 2019, the NGO under its HIV/AIDS programme is set to meet this target by 2025.
Heartland Alliance engage as a lead player with a variety of stakeholders to achieve an all-inclusive Nigeria, were marginalized and other vulnerable groups are treated with respect, dignity and are able to realize their full potentials as humans.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2021 WORLD AIDS DAY celebration in Oron, the Project Assistant KP-CARE 1, Ochelebe Peter made this disclosure.
He said some people’s claim of Akwa IBom having the highest number of people infected with AIDS being political is false.
He added that the organization has 3314 persons being treated with the organizations one stop clinic.
While lamenting on the gap that still exists in curtailing the spread of HIV/AIDS, …said the organization has been able to discover that 5 out of every 100 tested for HIV comes positive adding that the situation is very worse in the creeks.
Speaking exclusively to THE NARRATIVE, he said, “We have been able to bridge the gap but lots of gaps still exists, some say Akwa Ibom being number one on the log is political, it is not political.
“5 of every 100 persons tested comes positive that is for the upland area but for the hinterland and creeks, huge number of people are positive; and that is higher than the national average. We want to get everybody tested in bridging the gap. We work with sex workers, people who inject drugs, people in confined places like prisoners. We go more to the creeks were sex and drugs is on the increase. We will be able to meet 90% of our target within the period of this project.
“Based on our statistics, we have 422,000 in Akwa Ibom state, with our presence in all the local governments in this state, we want to test all the 422,000 and identify at least 21000 cases. We have been able to distribute a million pieces of male condoms, countless pieces of lubricants. With time, we will do our best
“2019-2024 with an extension to 2025 for the first phase, we have three more years to run. We have 3314 in care in Oron, five local governments; we have been able to test 72,000 so far. We target this year is to get 2000 positives from 9000 tests, being at the rate of 5 positive in 100 cases tested. We are taking care of them through our one stop stand alone clinic.”
He however called for partnership in financing alongside good policies which according to him will help reach the over 3 million persons receiving treatments for AIDS in the country.
“There is a need for sustainable financing, partners everywhere to save the over 3 million lives on treatment. We need to finance our health system with good policies and guidelines,” he concluded.
As part of activities to mark the day, the organization organized a free testing, consultation and distribution of HIV/AIDS medications. They also held rallies all of which was with the collaboration National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in Oron local government, Akwa Ibom.
Also speaking, a corp member, Pharm. Emmanuel Ogamba who led the NYSC team said the World AIDS Day campaign was beyond the mandatory Community Development Service (CDS) but a way of contributing in the fight against the disease.
World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on 1 December since 1988 to raise awareness, support and remember those who lost their lives to AIDS. 2021 theme is “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.