A civil society group known as Partners to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV response (PITCH-Nigeria), yesterday said government health agencies at all levels are not doing enough to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
The group stated this in a press statement issued in Abuja on its behalf by the National Coordinator of Association of Positive Youths Living with HIV in Nigeria (APYIN), Isah Mohammed.
According to him, systemic failure in the health sector was to blame for the high rate of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in the country.
“There is some systemic error in government health agencies when it comes to reducing stigma and discrimination against HIV positive youths especially if the effort will not amount to Naira and Kobo in peoples’ pocket.
“The poor youth-friendliness in government-owned healthcare facilities and the attitude of healthcare workers makes access to HIV treatment difficult and unattractive for young people.
“Sadly, due to stigma and discrimination, young people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria go through all forms of human right violations that expose them to isolation, low self-esteem and lack of interest in seeking help or accessing services,” Mohammed said.
He added that: “The care and support programme which had in the past helped to improve the livelihood and dignity of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and their families is fading out of the national response plan.”
According to him, “this is because the government has no tangible, coordinated effort aimed at providing legal aid for indigent PLHIV since they are more likely to face stigma and discrimination.
“We must not fail to state that the National and States Agencies for the Control of AIDS (NACA and SACAs) are also not fully committed to the implementation of the Anti-HIV Discrimination Act of 2014.
“If NACA were to tell the world how they have spent global fund money, believe me all the executives would be sitting on the table not on chairs.
“But have you heard anything from NACA concerning how they are publicizing the anti-stigma law? NACA has not really given very significant details concerning its sensitization plan.
“There is so little that we can do as a civil society but there is much more the government can do to build peace among Nigerian youths through stigma reduction.”
“We hope to find a government driven HIV discrimination effort not pockets of CSO interventions,” he said.