HIV Rampant In Epe, Speaker Alerts

Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji

Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has revealed  that HIV is very rampant in Epe, his constituency.

Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji

He disclosed this yesterday to mark the World’s AIDS Day which is being celebrated  today.

According to the speaker, though the people of the area, like others, suffer other  types of ailments, HIV and AIDS are the most common diseases in the area.

He attributed this to lack of enlightenment on the part of residents.

According to him, a medical doctor, who just returned from one of the western  countries drew his attention to the increasing number of residents of the area  infected with HIV.

“The doctor told me that when he made it easier for the people to come to him and  feel free to discuss with him, he discovered that one of the common afflictions over  there is HIV.

“He actually told me that he had seen up to 1,000 people, young and old,” he added.

Ikuforiji was reacting to a statement by a member of the House, Hon. Rotimi Olowo,  who said that the disease was common in villages where we have more illiterates and  are not enlightened about the disease.

Hon. Olowo tasked stakeholders in the health sector to ensure regular education of  the people so that they will know how to avoid the dreaded disease.

“We should not treat what Hon. Olowo said with levity, it is serious,” the Speaker  said.

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“Even around you, you may not know the real fact concerning the disease. So, we must  do something about it,” he added.

Other lawmakers reminded Lagosians that the disease had no cure and that abstinence  remained the best option to avoid contracting the disease.

The first HIV and AIDS case in Lagos State was recorded in 1986. Since then there  has been a gradual but steady increase in the number of people testing positive to  HIV and living with AIDS. Although the National Sero-prevalence Study (2003) puts  the prevalence rate of HIV in the state at 4.7 percent and 3.3 percent in 2005, the  facility based studies conducted in the State put the rate at 7 percent. As at 2001,  it was estimated that about 975,000 people were living with the virus in the state.  Adolescents and young adults within the youthful age of 15-24 years were the most  affected. Like in the other parts of the country, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Lagos  State is mainly through unprotected heterosexual activity accounting for about 89.5  percent of all infections. Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and infection  through blood and other blood products account for about 4.5 percent and 3.5 percent  respectively, while infection through sharp instruments accounts for about 2.5% of  all the transmissions.

Some of the factors responsible for the spread of HIV and AIDS in the state include:   poverty, which is very prominent among the low income earners in the state, high  level of ignorance about the nature of the disease, the modes of transmission, and  preventive strategies; inadequate Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) prevention,  diagnosis and treatment, discrimination and stigmatization of People Living with  HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) as well as limited care and support facilities for PLWH/A. Others  include unprotected sexual activity among the people, pessimism and fatalistic  attitude, low self risk assessment, break down in traditional value system as well  as lack of adequate sexuality education for our youths, as well as unsafe blood  transfusions.

In Lagos State, activities of major stakeholders and development partners in  the HIV and AIDS response are coordinated by LSACA. These stakeholders include Civil  Society Organizations (CSOs) grouped as Civil Society Consultative Network on  HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), Women Organizations,  Youth Organizations and Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria  (NEPWHAN). Other stakeholders include, Government Parastatals and Ministries in the  state, Organised Private Sector (OPS), Professional bodies associations as well as  the Media/Arts and Entertainment Industry and the Development Partners working in  Lagos state include the World Bank, the UN system, ALCO, and International  Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) as well as USAID supported projects like  GHAIN and COMPASS.

Lagos State is one of the most populous states in Nigeria with an estimated  population of over 15 million (UN studies). The state is also the melting pot for  the nation as people from all parts of the country reside there. Its population  density and location serve as challenges to effective HIV and AIDS responses.

The state has 20 Local government areas and all ministries. There are other  parastatals and agencies in the public sector while in the private sector, several  professional groups, associations and umbrella bodies also contribute to the state  response. One of the main challenges is the need for strengthening the capacity of  the aforementioned entities to function maximally. Programme coordination,  harmonization of plans and the inter-governmental relationship between the state and  the LGAs also constitute a major challenge. Thus, both the LSACA and LACAs need  institutional capacity building especially in the area of coordination, resources  mobilization, monitoring and evaluation.

—Eromosele Ebhomele

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