People living with HIV/AIDS mourn dead colleagues

Some persons living with HIV/AIDS at the event

• Accuse NACA, Taraba of abandoning them, govt denies jeopardising their treatment

From the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN) in Taraba State came a startling revelation that over 892 members of the network had died between 2015 and 2017.

Wearing black dress, members of the Network, who converged in Jalingo, the state capital on Friday to mark the World AIDS Day, blamed both the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the state government for the death of their colleagues.
Carrying placards with different inscriptions, the group appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari, to investigate how N8billion fund meant for the support of HIV/AIDS for Taraba and Abia states was spent.

The North-East coordinator of the network, Abraham Johnson and its Taraba State coordinator, Layidi Johnson, said the member are wearing black dress to mourn colleagues that have passed away due to government neglect.He said NACA’s decision to live in the hands of state government issues concerning HIV/ AIDS portends danger for victims of HIV because the states, especially Taraba, is finding it difficult to pay salaries let alone funding HIV/AIDS.

Citing newborn babies and pregnant women as worse hit, he said the number of patients on treatment in the state had increased to 42,764.Johnson, who has living with the epidemic for nineteen years, said PLWHA members are being extorted before assessing the facilities, majority of which according to him “ are no longer functioning.”He said twelve children are born with HIV/AIDS every three months in the state, and twenty women tested positive of HIV/AIDS in every quarters.

Also the zonal Coordinator, Layidi Johnson, said all the CD4 counts are not properly functioning in some of the facilities in the state.” She people living with HIV were charged for some services that were supposed to be free.

Johnson, who identified inadequate supply of drugs in the facilities, could not fathomed why the  State House of Assembly was still playing “hide and seek ” game with the anti-stigma bill.

She said Taraba State allocation for HIV programme has not been released since 2015 to date. The Network appealed to both NACA and Taraba State government to address the challenges identified by PLWHA in order to prevent further infection of HIV/AIDS across the state and the nation at large.

The state coordinator of Coalitions of NGOs Working With HIV/AIDS, Samuel Tari, also expressed dissatisfaction that counterpart fund for HIV/AID was no longer forthcoming from the state government.

The NACA representative in the state, Dr. Abbe Agbu, denied the allegations that NACA has abandoned HIV/AIDS persons, saying the “Federal Government will not jeopardise any single person that is on HIV/AIDS treatment.”

The Permanent Secretary of the Taraba Agency for the Control of AIDS (TACA), Mallam Abbas Sale Ibrahim, assured NEPWHAN of state government’s collaborations.

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