By Jovitta Iorshase
About 4,016 babies have been delivered HIV free from positive mothers due to improved antenatal services and exclusive testing across Benue State by the APIN Health Initiative, a lead implementing partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
APIN’s representative, Lucy Hembe disclosed this during the 3rd and 4th quarters, state prevention technical working meeting, held last Wednesday at the BenSACA Board Room, Makurdi.
Mrs Hembe explained that, the organization has introduced methods like baby shower, mentor mothers monitoring, among others to entice even the poor pregnant women to engage in antenatal clinic which 4,348 pregnant women were reached.
She however, lamented that, 58% new cases were recorded, with more from Gboko, Ukum and Makurdi. “This could be as a result of multiple sex partners, high population in such places or refusal by some clients to personally visit the clinics,” she explained.
Representative of the Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), Mr Amos Uzua reported on the collaborative efforts between CiSHAN and Child Protection Network, to track cases of abuse against minors, integration and fight for justice, while the KP representative pleaded that, attention be given to Hepatitis infection among the youths too as it was becoming an issue.
NYNETHA ,Ministry of Education, APAHB and others encouraged that love, commitment, accountability, funding, proper data collection, programme monitoring team, awareness among others should be considered as key in reducing the prevalence as well as meeting the HIV zero target by 2030, even when donor support folds off.
The Acting Executive Secretary, Benue State AIDS Control Agency (BenSACA), Dr Jacob Awodi, earlier in his welcome address restated that, though the donors were gradually withdrawing support, there was no reason to fear as Federal and state governments were already doing their best for smooth takeover.
“The Federal government is already spending a lot in addition to what we are getting from donors. Efforts are also being put in place to see that, the funding sector will also contribute to what the government is contributing. The state is also made to understand that it must take care of its citizens “. He stated.
The meeting focused on reviving inactive support groups in the state for maximal output, ways of addressing rising new cases of HIV and proper integration of the Key Population (KP) Secretariat with other IPs.