Stakeholders ask govt, others to empower 16,623 women living with HIV/AIDS in Osun

TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

The Association of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN), Osun State Chapter has called on government at all levels to empower them with skills and trainings that would make them self-sustaining and live decent lives.

The women lamented that most of them lack money to even pay for their transportation to access treatment and other care at the hospitals, adding that majority of them could hardly feed themselves three times a day.

They, however, called on the state government, business outfits, implementing partners to rise to their needs, noting that economic empowerment of women would prevent them from falling victims of gender based and domestic violence and also contributing their quota to the development of their families.

Speaking at a programme ASWHAN organised to mark the International Women’s Day in Osogbo, capital of the state on Friday, the Coordinator of the association in Osun, Balikis Adeyemi, said because of poverty, many pregnant women living with HIV and AIDS could no longer go for their Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS treatment.

Putting the total number of women living with HIV and AIDS in Osun at 16,623 as of last year November, Adeyemi said if the dream of the international community to end HIV and AIDS by 2030 would be realised, those living with the virus, especially women and children should be empowered and invested in by government and other relevant stakeholders.

Addressing the theme of the occasion: “Count Women Living With HIV in, Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment,” Adeyemi warned against looking down on women, discriminating against those with HIV and AIDS and stigmatising against them.

She said, “ASWHAN Osun State, in collaboration with ASWHAN national and the UN women we are celebrating International Women’s Day and what we want is that people should stop looking down on women, they should stop discrimination, they should stop sexual and gender based violence against women and girls.

Women with HIV/AIDS
Women with HIV/AIDS

“Our key areas of challenge of which we want the government to do something urgent about include economic empowerment. We want government to invest in women living with HIV and AIDS and also see to our human rights issue. Whenever we have any issue, the government should stand for us and fight the issue with us so that we can get justice and get resolution.

“We don’t want to be discriminated against in the community. We call on government both national and State level to empower us. We call on donors, partners, IPOs who are working in the state to come to our aid. We call on small and large scale retail outlets to come to our aids. We want you to support us with economic empowerment and life-building skills. Engage ASWHAN in PMCTC programme, implementation and service delivery. If the implementing partners come to our aids and train our women, there will be a HIV free nation before 2030.”

Also speaking, Dr Adeniyi Ogini, the Executive Secretary, Osun State Agency for Control of Aids (OSACA) called on government to see to the welfare of women living with HIV and AIDS, adding that there is now anti-discrimination law in the state that would punish anyone found culpable.

In his submission, the National Financial Secretary of Association of Positive Youths Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Ayodeji Adeniji urged Nigerians to desist from stigmatising carriers of the virus and emphasised on the need for women to be economically empowered.

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