Sokoto State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Leprosy has urged Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to support the enactment of a law that will enforce HIV/AIDS screening before marriage.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Alhaji Bello Alkammawa, made the call in Sokoto on Wednesday.
He was speaking during a sensitisation lecture in commemoration of 2023 World AIDS Day (WAD).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that WAD has been annually celebrated on December 1 since 1988 to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who died of the disease.
AIDS is a chronic immune system disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight infection and diseases. HIV, which can be spread through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, has no cure yet, but medications can control the infection and prevent disease progression.
The global WAD observance has “Let Communities Lead” as the theme for 2023.
The SOSACAT boss, therefore, said “sexual intercourse remains one of the ways of contracting HIV/AIDS, so, there is a need for the Sokoto State Government to join other states in enacting law that will enforce screening before marriage.”
He solicited for the support of community groups, religious bodies and other stakeholders to facilitate the state’s Ministry of Health to prepare a law for the House of Assembly’s consideration, as well as the governor’s assent.
The executive secretary said modern ways provided protection for mothers and babies, as well as between infected couples transmission of HIV/AIDS.
He urged the state government to ensure increased funding to the agency to sustain the successes recorded in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
According to him, increased funding will ensure that treatment and care of the 11,322 persons on therapy in the state is sustained, as services rendered are being supported by partners.
On his part, Malam Muhammad Garba, the Coordinator of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), Sokoto State chapter, also urged the state government to increase funding and sustainability plans for HIV/AIDS interventions.
Garba said most HIV/AIDS interventions were from donor agencies, which might seize at any time, emphasising that government funding should be planned to ensure sustainability of programmes.
He explained that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Sokoto State had conducted a series of HIV/AIDS activities at all levels, which helped in reducing cases.
In a remark, the Chairman, Sokoto State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Alhaji Kabiru Dauda, assured legislative support to all activities that would enhance peoples’ wellbeing.
Dauda said persons living with HIV/AIDS are part of the society and are contributing in all spheres of lives, so there is need to help them to live healthy.
In his lecture, Dr Balarabe Adam from Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH), said HIV/AIDS should be regarded as a social problem, rather than a medical problem in the society.
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Gloria Enuaze, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Programme Officer in Sokoto State, commended the organisers and reiterated the Fund’s support to people living with the virus at all times.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event witnessed talks on roles of state actors, CSOs and international partners in sustaining HIV/AIDS response in Sokoto State.