The medical service of the police in Ogun State on Wednesday visited major streets in Abeokuta to sensitise and enlighten residents as well as members of the public about HIV/AIDS.
The activity was to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day which had the theme ‘End Inequalities: End AIDA Through Sustainable Financing.’
The officers were seen at motor parks, markets, vendor stands, public and private institutions, and schools among others.
The team led by Minachiso Ihegbero, a medical doctor and chief superintendent of police, while speaking with journalists, encouraged residents to visit Police Cottage Hospital, located within the premises of Zone 2, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, for a free test to enable them to know their health status.
He said the Nigeria Police Action Committee on AIDS (PACA) in compliance with this year’s theme also provided free HIV counseling, testing, and health talks on HIV/AIDS.
“Today we are doing free testing for people who want to volunteer for testing. The Police Action Committee Against AIDS (PACA) are the ones handling this sensitization,” he said.
“We are here to remind people that HIV/AIDS is still out there and so they should be careful and they should follow the normal procedure of abstinence and using protection.
“The number we recorded last year and this year has reduced and so we don’t want people to relapse. People should always get their selves tested and protected when having sex. People should not concentrate on Covid-19 alone, they should remember there are other health challenges ravaging the whole world like HIV/ AIDS. Despite Covid-19, HIV and AIDS is still with us.”
Mr Ihegbero said PACA is a unit set aside in the medical department of the Nigerian Police Medical services to fight against the disease daily.
The Medical Officer in charge of Police Clinic, Adedokun Ishola, in his remarks, noted that the day was set aside globally to sensitize the public to get tested, to know their status and that they can do what is appropriate when they have done the test.
“Nigeria has not won the battle over HIV/AIDS, we just used today to sensitize the public,” he said.
“But even in our normal practice, Monday to Friday, 24 hours hospital service we still step up our operations on HIV/AIDS, we get people tested, even for our antenatal care, when pregnant women come to clinics for pregnancy care or pregnancy-related conditions part of the things we do, part of the investigations we do is to get them tested for HIV/AIDS, we just set aside today to make a public announcement.
“In this our part of the country because I have worked in the north, there it is 1 in 20 pregnant women, but here 1-15 pregnant women test positive to HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of this HIV is actually much in some states, for instance, it is more common in Benue State probably because of their lifestyle and the kind of things they do there.”
Mr Ishola noted that stigmatization of HIV/AIDS carriers remains a problem in Nigeria.
“Some people don’t want to get tested because they would be stigmatized, they are afraid of knowing their result, some people are living risky life and they are afraid that if they get tested it may turn out to be positive and they are afraid of being tested.
“Our challenges are, ordinarily when you get to the clinic, you are supposed to be counseled, your consent is supposed to be taken before you undergo the testing, and if you don’t give consent then you won’t be tested, sometimes people fail to give consent for the testing.
‘There are some bodies that are providing these drugs for them for free, one of them is PEPFA, so when we test an individual and he turns out to be positive, the next thing we do is send them to the appropriate centres where they can get treatment for it and the drugs there for free.”
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