By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The Kwara State Action Committee on HIV and AIDS (KWASACA) has said that it has so far recorded no fewer than 432 children infected with HIV/AIDS between January and June in the state.
The Coordinator of KWASACA, Dr Seleem Alabi, who disclosed this during an awareness programme on AIDS organised by the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Kwara State chapter in collaboration with KWASACA in Ilorin weekend however said that the state government had put in place laws that imposed between N50,000 and N100,000 fine on anybody stigmatising people living with HIV and AIDS.
The programme was particularly organised to sensitise women journalists on the importance of regular screening on HIV and AIDS.
Alabi in his presentation titled: “HIV/AIDS an Opportunistic Infection”, said: “The cases recorded were from mother-to-child transmission either at birth or through breastfeeding.
“When babies are exposed to infected blood or breast milk, they would be vulnerable to the condition.” The KWASACA coordinator also said that HIV is a virus that lives in human blood, sexual fluids and breast milk.
According to him, “It weakens the immune system so that the body will have a hard time fighting off common germs, viruses, fungi, and other invaders.”
Alabi added that the infection would spread from person to person when certain body fluids were shared, usually during vaginal or anal sex, or when sharing drugs through injection.
He stressed that it could also be passed to the human body from infected needles, tattoos and body piercing.
According to him, the virus could also be spread through oral sex, though the chances are slim.
The coordinator also hinted that statistics had shown that about 35 million people were victims of HIV/AIDS worldwide, while 3.3 million of them were Nigerians. He pointed out that advances in anti-retroviral therapy had made it possible for people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives.
Alabi said with HIV, a weakened immune system would increase vulnerability to a number of opportunistic infections, cancers, and other conditions. He said that the public could prevent HIV and AIDS transmission by avoiding the sharing of sharp objects such as razor blades, used needles and syringes. Alabi also explained the 90/90/90 target to end HIV/AIDS by 2030, explaining that: “90 per cent will be on anti-retroviral therapy, 90 per cent will get tested, and 90 per cent are zero HIV and AIDS infection in the society.”