…Says positivity stands at no fewer than 23,800
From David Goni, Gombe
Gombe State Agency for the Control of AIDS (GOMSACA) has called on the state government to do the needful by releasing funds to curtail the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
The Project Manager of the agency, Dr. Suraj Abdulkarim, who made the appeal in an interview with our correspondent in the state capital, said the agency is facing a lot of challenge without release of funds by the government to tackle the disease.
He however said that last year the sum of N160 million was approved by the government to fight against the disease but only N5 million was released.
“We solicit our support from the government to assist us,” the Project Manager pleaded.
Dr. Abdulkarim also explained that in this year’s budget, the government has approved the total amount of N180 million for the agency to carry out its duty but yet no release of funds has been made to it.
He also appealed to corporate bodies, individuals as well as governments at various levels to contribute their quota by purchasing more HIV testing kits for the public to know their status.
Dr. Abdulkarim said the patronage of self testing kits for HIV/AIDS which was launched last year to know the status of infected person, is very low.
He added that out of 54 per cent of people living with the virus in the state, only 34 per cent know their status.
He called on the people to always go for testing to ensure their status, adding that adequate testing would help to reduce the spread of the virus.
Dr. Abdulkarim also advised that infected persons should not be victimized by the society, pointing out that doing so would equally discouraged people living with the virus to shy from testing their status.
According to him, there is availability of antivirus drugs meant for treatment of patients in hospitals in the state, stressing the need for the public to come out for testing.
He said if found with the virus, they could be placed on treatment to avoid the spread of the disease.
Dr. Abdulkarim said even though the self testing kits costing about N1, 000 and above, which may not be affordable to every person; there is tendency for the state government to make it free of charge for the beneficiaries.
The Project Manager, who did not hide his feelings, said no fewer than 23,800 people live with the virus in the state, adding that 52,000 people are estimated to the disease.
He said with this number, 60 per cent of people are living with the virus in the state, while 40 per cent are estimated.
According to him, if something is not done urgently, the state may not be able to manage HIV/AIDS.