1st December, 2010
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has revealedÂ that HIV is very rampant in Epe, his constituency.
He disclosed this yesterday to mark the Worldâ€™s AIDS Day which is being celebratedÂ today.
According to the speaker, though the people of the area, like others, suffer otherÂ 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 westernÂ countries drew his attention to the increasing number of residents of the areaÂ infected with HIV.
â€œThe doctor told me that when he made it easier for the people to come to him andÂ feel free to discuss with him, he discovered that one of the common afflictions overÂ there is HIV.
â€œHe actually told me that he had seen up to 1,000 people, young and old,â€ he added.
Ikuforiji was reacting to a statement by a member of the House, Hon. Rotimi Olowo,Â who said that the disease was common in villages where we have more illiterates andÂ are not enlightened about the disease.
Hon. Olowo tasked stakeholders in the health sector to ensure regular education ofÂ the people so that they will know how to avoid the dreaded disease.
â€œWe should not treat what Hon. Olowo said with levity, it is serious,â€ the SpeakerÂ said.
â€œEven around you, you may not know the real fact concerning the disease. So, we mustÂ do something about it,â€ he added.
Other lawmakers reminded Lagosians that the disease had no cure and that abstinenceÂ remained the best option to avoid contracting the disease.
The first HIV and AIDS case in Lagos State was recorded in 1986. Since then thereÂ has been a gradual but steady increase in the number of people testing positive toÂ HIV and living with AIDS. Although the National Sero-prevalence Study (2003) putsÂ the prevalence rate of HIV in the state at 4.7 percent and 3.3 percent in 2005, theÂ facility based studies conducted in the State put the rate at 7 percent. As at 2001,Â it was estimated that about 975,000 people were living with the virus in the state.Â Adolescents and young adults within the youthful age of 15-24 years were the mostÂ affected. Like in the other parts of the country, the spread of HIV/AIDS in LagosÂ State is mainly through unprotected heterosexual activity accounting for about 89.5Â percent of all infections. Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and infectionÂ through blood and other blood products account for about 4.5 percent and 3.5 percentÂ respectively, while infection through sharp instruments accounts for about 2.5% ofÂ all the transmissions.
Some of the factors responsible for the spread of HIV and AIDS in the state include:Â Â poverty, which is very prominent among the low income earners in the state, highÂ level of ignorance about the nature of the disease, the modes of transmission, andÂ preventive strategies; inadequate Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) prevention,Â diagnosis and treatment, discrimination and stigmatization of People Living withÂ HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) as well as limited care and support facilities for PLWH/A. OthersÂ include unprotected sexual activity among the people, pessimism and fatalisticÂ attitude, low self risk assessment, break down in traditional value system as wellÂ as lack of adequate sexuality education for our youths, as well as unsafe bloodÂ transfusions.
In Lagos State, activities of major stakeholders and development partners inÂ the HIV and AIDS response are coordinated by LSACA. These stakeholders include CivilÂ Society Organizations (CSOs) grouped as Civil Society Consultative Network onÂ HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), Women Organizations,Â Youth Organizations and Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in NigeriaÂ (NEPWHAN). Other stakeholders include, Government Parastatals and Ministries in theÂ state, Organised Private Sector (OPS), Professional bodies associations as well asÂ the Media/Arts and Entertainment Industry and the Development Partners working inÂ Lagos state include the World Bank, the UN system, ALCO, and InternationalÂ Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) as well as USAID supported projects likeÂ GHAIN and COMPASS.
Lagos State is one of the most populous states in Nigeria with an estimatedÂ population of over 15 million (UN studies). The state is also the melting pot forÂ the nation as people from all parts of the country reside there. Its populationÂ density and location serve as challenges to effective HIV and AIDS responses.
The state has 20 Local government areas and all ministries. There are otherÂ parastatals and agencies in the public sector while in the private sector, severalÂ professional groups, associations and umbrella bodies also contribute to the stateÂ response. One of the main challenges is the need for strengthening the capacity ofÂ the aforementioned entities to function maximally. Programme coordination,Â harmonization of plans and the inter-governmental relationship between the state andÂ the LGAs also constitute a major challenge. Thus, both the LSACA and LACAs needÂ institutional capacity building especially in the area of coordination, resourcesÂ mobilization, monitoring and evaluation.