HIV/AIDS: Gov. Ikpeazu’s wife calls for increased fight against stigmatisation

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Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of Abia Governor on Wednesday called on
relevant agencies to intensify efforts toward eradicating HIV/AIDS stigma and
discrimination in the society.
Ikpeazu made the call during the public presentation of a book entitled
“Surmounting Stigmatisation in the Campaign against HIV/AIDS” in
Umuahia.
The event was organised by Vicar Hope Foundation, the pet project of the
governor’s wife in conjunction with The Global Initiative Against Stigma, a
Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and Abia State Agency for Control
AIDS (ABSACA).
According to her, statistics from World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals
that 1.8 million people contracted HIV in 2008 and that the figure has not
reduced till date.
“We cannot rest on our oars. There is need for constant education and
research on the disease until there is a cure for the pandemic.

“I appeal to the state House of Assembly to pass a law that will tackle stigma
and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)’’.
She charged the people of Abia to endeavour to know their HIV/AIDS status
and show love to people living with the virus in the state and nation at large.
In his keynote address, Dr Eme Ajike, the Executive Secretary of ABSACA,
said that stigma could be involuntary and spontaneous, as well as a major
barrier to effectively reversing spread of the pandemic.
Ajike said that there was need to strengthen the state’s legal framework and
develop community-based education programmes on the disease to reduce
stigmatisation.
“The achievement of zero discrimination through effective implementation of
existing laws is the only way to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in our society by
the year 2030,” he added.
In his remark, Mr Paddy Anyatonwu, the Book Reviewer, commended the
author for capturing the need for a campaign against discrimination of
PLWHA in the six chapter and 90-page book.
Anyatonwu said that the pandemic was eating deep into the fabrics of the
society and required the concerted efforts of every member of the society to
reverse the spread of the disease.
Earlier, Mr Ugochukwu Nwankwo, the Author of the book, said that studies
had revealed that 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with
HIV/AIDS and stigma was playing a major in increasing the figure.
Nwankwo called for commitment toward ending HIV/AIDS-related stigma
and discrimination as well as protecting the rights of people affected by
HIV/AIDS.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event featured free HIV testing
and counseling.

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