Umoh: Only 20% of Adolescents Living with HIV Know their Status

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Martins Ifijeh
The Programme Manager, Positive Action for Treatment Access (PATA), Mr. Francis Umoh, has noted that even though about 196,000 adolescents are living with Human Immuno Virus/Acquired Immune Disease (HIV/AIDS) in Nigeria, only about 20 per cent knows their status.
He said it was disheartening that adolescents living with HIV were growing up with limited supports as over 80 per cent of them were still ignorant of their status. “Some of such adolescents have lost their parents and are being tossed among relatives.”
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Adolescents Living with HIV in Nigeria, he said, “although the government is trying all possible best to put together better health facilities for treatment and also providing drugs in alliance with international partners, other stakeholders, the society and individuals need to support the cause.
He also condemned educational institutions for conducting pre-admission HIV tests, adding that this means promoting stigmatisation and discrimination.
“We are saying that educational institutions should put a stop to pre-admission HIV test. Whether one is positive or negative should not stop admission for higher learning. What will be the advantage if the institution should know the status of its students?”
A Member, Board of Directors, PATA, Mrs. Iwalola Akin-Jimoh who also doubles as the Chairman of the event, stressed that old age kills not HIV. She said with the right drugs and care PLWHA can lead a normal life.
Appreciating Ford Foundation for supporting the success of the event, Iwalola added that knowing one’s HIV status to be positive was not a death warrant, rather such persons should embark on routine medical treatment.