World AIDS Day: Minister urges women to go for regular HIV screening

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has urged women to embark on regular HIV/AIDS screening to know their status and access free medical services.

She made the call during the free HIV screening on Tuesday in Abuja to commemorate the 2020 World AIDS Day.

The day is celebrated globally on Dec. 1, to raise awareness of the pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.’’

The free HIV screening was organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs, in collaboration with an international NGO
called — Oral Health Advocacy Initiative (OHAI).

The minister said that the event would create more awareness on HIV and show solidarity for those who died and those living
with the virus.

She added that “my commitment is to ensure that every Nigerian woman and child know their HIV/AIDS status because it is not a death sentence.

“There is no point running away from being tested. I call on well-meaning Nigerians, particularly women and children to get tested,
especially on this day.”

She cautioned against discriminating persons living with HIV/AIDs, stressing the need to show support and encouragement to them.

The Senior Administrative Officer of OHAI, Mr Charles Owan, said the exercise was to create more awareness on HIV/AIDS and
encourage people to go for regular screening to know their status.

Owan said “some people think that HIV/AIDs is gone or is no longer in existence. So, we are here to let the world know that
HIV is still with us and even more deadly.

“We are here to create awareness and tell people that HIV is still very much around, people should be more careful and embrace
preventive measures.”

He reiterated the commitment of the organisation toward improving the health status of the people.

The Regional Director for Africa, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Matshidiso Moeti in a statement to mark the World AIDS
Day, advocated for the rights of women and girls to stop new HIV infections.

Moeti said girls and women aged 15 years and 24 years accounted for 37 per cent of all new HIV infections.

He said stigma and discrimination against key populations continue to create barriers to service access.

According to her, 38 million people are living with HIV globally and 67 per cent of them are living in the WHO African Region.

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