Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Sokoto healthworkers unlawfully disclosing patients’ HIV/AIDS status: NEPWHAN

Mr Gwadabawa said many people living with the virus experience stigma and urged stakeholders to redouble efforts on public awareness.

• December 2, 2022

Officials in Sokoto State health facilities are unlawfully revealing the HIV/AIDS statuses of patients, thereby exposing them to stigmatisation, the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has alleged.

Hussaini Gwadabawa, the Sokoto State Coordinator of NEPWHAN, said in Sokoto that unlawful disclosures had led to rising incidents of stigma in some communities.

He said this had also led to abandonment of treatment by some infected persons, worsening their conditions.

Mr Gwadabawa expressed the fear that stigmatisation by some health workers as well as community members could reverse progress made toward ending HIV/AIDS in the country.

“The practice is dangerous and may discourage some HIV/AIDS patients from going to health facilities to pick their retroviral medicines,” he said.

According to him, NEPWHAN has no fewer than 11,000 members in Sokoto State.

He said there were 14 facility support groups and two community-based support groups in Sokoto State providing friendly services to infected persons.

Mr Gwadabawa disclosed that NEPWHAN had explored the existing discrimination law domesticated in Sokoto State to approach health facilities, National Human Rights Commission and even take legal actions on unlawful disclosures.

“At present we have three cases in court and another pending case involving a health facility where a health worker disclosed the identity of an affected person including a minor.

“The mother was being stigmatised and this eventually forced her to stop treatment,” he said.

He appealed to the government to re-orientate health workers, especially on HIV/AIDS, noting that knowledge on the mode of transmission should not be limited to medical doctors and laboratory scientists.

Mr Gwadabawa said many people living with the virus experience stigma and urged stakeholders to redouble efforts on public awareness.

He further lamented that NEPWHAN members were not being considered for government empowerment support schemes.

“Women are higher in the number of infected persons in the state as a husband can marry up to four wives and infect them.

“Such persons need support and I appeal to the Sokoto State Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Development to ensure inclusion of NEPWHAN members in their respective empowerment schemes” he said.

Umar Bello-Alkammawa, the Executive Secretary of Sokoto State Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS, however, said he was not aware of facilities revealing the identity of people living with the virus.

According to Mr Bello-Alkammawa, the state has 12, 654 HIV/AIDS burden based on the 2018 National Health Statistics Survey.

Mr Bello-Alkammawa, who said 11,707 persons were on treatment across the state, appealed for public support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile, Balkisu Muhammad, a member of Association of Women living With HIV/AIDS has solicited for inclusion in enpowerment programmes.

Ms Muhammad said members now engage in all forms of productive activities because of the treatment being received. 


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