WorldStage Newsonline-- The Network of People Living with HIV/AID in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has accused the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) of exclusion and discrimination against HIV patients.
According to NEPWHAN 's National Coordinator, Mr. Edward Ogenyi, the group had been excluded in the agency's dealing even on issues that concerns it.
NEPWHAN was at a meeting between NACA and State Agencies for the Control of AIDS, SACAs, in Abuja where NACA Director General, Prof Idoko said it was to enable the NACA and states assess what had been done this year and also prepare for activities to be carried in 2014.
He said, “What is happening here today is what is called NACA, SACA forum; an event that brings all the stakeholders working on HIV/AIDS from the 36 states and FCT to Abuja, including private sector and development partners to develop issues of HIV/AIDS work plan and operations, especially strategies for implementation.
“From the look of things, I am not comfortable at all. In fact, we were even very surprised that though it is good that NACA brings all the stakeholders to Abuja to discuss strategies for implementation, to develop work plan and operations and the rest of them. But, it is very surprising to me that in this very all-important event, nobody living with HIV/AIDS has been invited to participate, including my humble self; I was not invited. I just heard about this, and I had to find my way in.
“Because this is happening and we have come to ask ourselves: what exactly is happening in this country? Can NACA end HIV/AIDS by practicing policy of exclusion? And, I say to them, the highest form of stigmatization and discrimination against the person living with HIV/AIDS is exclusion. Why is it that NACA has continued to practice the policy of exclusion? And, here, you are still talking about issue of stigmatization and discrimination. Can NACA get to zero-infection of HIV by frustrating the efforts of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria? Can NACA get to zero AIDS-related deaths by making people living with HIV to be vulnerable? Can NACA get to zero-discrimination by making persons living with HIV to be beggars? These are questions that are begging for answers."