About 72,000 adolescents are living with HIV in Lagos State, Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, Oluseyi Temowo, has said.
Mr. Temowo made the disclosure on Thursday while speaking in Lagos at a forum on adolescents living with HIV.
An NGO, Positive Action for Treatment, organised the forum in partnership with the AIDS agency to mark 2016 World AIDS Day.
Mr. Temowo urged the people to know their status early, added that drugs for HIV could be obtained free in any government hospital in the state.
He advised parents, guardians, healthcare givers and media to support the government in its effort to stamp out the condition by engaging in massive sensitisation of the public.
Also speaking, Olufemi Onanuga, the Special Adviser to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode on Primary Healthcare, said the state government would sanction any school or organisation guilty of discriminating against HIV patients.
He also warned members of members of public, employers and school owners against stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to him, the state government on will commence enforcement of legislation prohibiting stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with HIV in the state.
The governor’s aide condemned a school for rusticating an adolescent girl on account of living with HIV.
He said: ’’There is no need for discrimination. HIV is not a death sentence; anyone can live with this condition, like any other diseases like hypertension, for the rest of life.’’
“There is legislation against discrimination, be it at work or school. No one should be kicked out of school or work because of HIV.
“People live well as long as they (the victims) take their drugs; we will commence enforcement of the legislation against discrimination.
“As policy makers, we would do everything possible to make sure that HIV is kicked out of Lagos State and there won’t be discrimination for anyone.”
The Wife of the Governor, Bolanle Ambode, appealed to policy makers across the country for intervention programmes targeted at adolescents living with HIV and AIDS, because of their strategic age bracket.
Ambode, the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, urged LSACA and all relevant government agencies to continue sensitising the public on the danger of discriminating against people living with HIV and AIDS.
Francis Umoh, Programme Manager, PATA said that the forum was conveyed to sensitise policy makers and key stakeholders on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents living with HIV.
Mr. Umoh said the step became necessary to promote support for PATA’s intervention programmes aimed at improving the quality of life of adolescents living with HIV in the area.
He said that PATA had established the Mary’s Home to cater for the psycho social and Sexual Reproductive Health needs of vulnerable and indigent adolescent girls living with HIV with no anywhere to stay.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), recalls that the United Nations in 1988 declared Dec. 1 as the World AIDS Day.
The theme for the 2016 global event is “Hands Up for HIV Prevention.”
The Day is designed to honour AIDS victims and focus on issues surrounding HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). (NAN)