Governor Samuel Ortom has charged people of the state to get themselves tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, in order to know their status with a view to controlling the spread of the virus.
He gave the charge today at the New Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House Makurdi during the official launch of the Anti Retro Viral Therapy (ART) Surge and the Undetectable equal Untransmittable (U = U), targeted at controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The Governor, who acknowledged the contributions of the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation founded by his wife, Dr. Mrs. Eunice Ortom to the control, care and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS said the prevalence rate of the epidemic in the state had dropped to 4.9 per cent.
While advising against stigmatisation and discrimination against those infected by the virus, Governor Ortom pledged his administration’s commitment to providing an enabling environment for meaningful interventions against the spread of the virus through provision of test kits, training of service providers and awareness creation.
He commended all stakeholders including US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, United States Centre for Disease Control, APIN Public Health Initiatives and other implementing partners for their sacrifices and goodwill towards the control of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the state.
The US Deputy Chief of Mission and Acting Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs. Kathleen Fitzgibbon said the aim of the programme is to bring the epidemic under control in the next two years through suppression of the viral load in infected persons and testing to identify those infected for proper action.
Wife of the Benue State Governor, Dr. Mrs. Eunice Ortom, acknowledged the efforts of the Benue State Government towards scaling down the spread of HIV AIDS, even as she pledged continued support through her NGO, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation to further reduce the spread of the epidemic.
Representative of the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Gambo Aliyu said out of the 190,000 persons infected with HIV, 150,000 are on medication with 40,000 yet to access treatment, stressing that more are required to go for testing to ascertain their status.
Dr. Mrs. Eunice Ortom was crowned the Benue Anti Retro Viral Therapy Surge Ambassador while wife of the Tor Tiv, Dr. Mrs. Felicia Ayatse among others were crowned champions of the ART Surge campaign in the state.