By Asmau Ahmad
A medical researcher, Prof. Oni Idigbe, on Friday in Lagos, identified stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS as the major hindrances to combating the disease. Idigbe, who is also the Coordinator, Tuberculosis/HIV Programmes at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, made this known in an interview with the newsmen.
`Stigmatisation and discrimination are the two major things that fight against people coming out to be tested freely. Once you don’t test, you don’t get to know people are positive.
“And then, when you test and people are positive, discrimination and stigmatisation have also been found to militate against people going to access drugs.
“Once you access your drugs, you can be treated and once you are treated, treatment is now becoming part of prevention.
“So, I think we have to work toward having zero stigmatisation.
“If we have zero stigmatisation, we have zero new infections, we have zero deaths and we have zero adult HIV and we move toward a generation that is free of HIV.
“We need everybody’s commitment; stigmatisation is not about me and you alone; it is everywhere.
“If we get to educate our people to know that anybody living with HIV/AIDS is your brother, your sister, your relation – you do not need to discriminate.
“If you do not discriminate you will help the person to live positively with the scourge and help us to reduce transmission and help us to have better treatment rate and then we will move forward to a generation free of HIV.“