Ondo screens 800,000 For HIV, vows to enforce ‘condom in rooms’ law
THE Ondo state government revealed on Tuesday that it has screened over 800,000 residents for Human Immuno Virus (HIV) even as it expresses the determination to enforce the law promulgated to check the virus in the state.
Secretary to the State Government and Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (ODSACA), Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, has said while addressing journalists during a condom use and safer sex sensitisation exercise to hotels in Akure, as part of activities commemorating the 2015 World AIDS Day, said government is working towards ensuring there is zero HIV new infection, discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV, mother to child transmission and AIDS related death.
He stated that the Agency has embarked on consistent HIV counselling and testing in all nooks and crannies of the state, expansion of HIV counselling and testing centres from three on assumption of office to about 230 centres spread across the state.
He maintained that ODSACA with the support of other stakeholders is implementing strategic action plans in order to promote behavioural change, ensure care and support for people living with the virus.
The Chairman opined that the state has over the years successfully articulated policies and programmes to sustain the efforts of the agency in the fight against the scourge.
The Chief Scribe who encouraged the people to know their HIV status observed that the law relating to HIV in the state empowers ODSACA to enforce HIV related laws, as such it is a severe offence for hoteliers not to put condom packs in their rooms in order to promote safer sex, reduce the spread of the virus, while noting that the agency will not hesitate to persecute defaulters.
He said civil society organizations have also been contracted to increase HIV awareness at different strata of the society and this has been very productive as it amounts to very high behavioural change, adherence to preventive intervention mechanism among female sex workers and other most at risk groups, while over 500 personnel have also been trained to further assist in the campaign against the spread of the virus at the urban and rural areas.
In his contribution, Project manager, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Adedayo Adegbulu, noted that HIV is not a death sentence, adding that as such, care and support must be given to people living with the virus.
He said the state has acquired sophisticated machines and put in hospitals across the state to get accurate analysis and screening of the virus, while the Centre for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission has also been expanded from three at the inception of this administration to 148 centres.
He said with HIV education now being inculcated in the secondary school curriculum, youth will be encouraged on abstinence, increase their awareness about HIV and advice them to further spread the campaign in the homes and among peers.
Adegbulu appealed to the private sector to be interested in assisting the Agency towards stemming the spread of the virus, just as he urged them to see it as a social responsibility to provide care and support for people living with the virus.