The Lagos State Aids Control (LSACA) has commenced the sensitisation of religious leaders across the five divisions of the state on HIV /AIDS Prevention and Stigma Reduction.
The programme, which is in fulfillment of its quest to achieve the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS)’ 90-90-90 Initiative, began on Wednesday, January 8.
Dr. Monsurat Adeleke, the Chief Executive Officer of the agency, while addressing participants at the event pointed out the need to collaborate with religious leaders across the state due to their influence on members of the public.
She described them as important stakeholders whose position can help drive the initiative even further, adding that stigmatisation of people living with HIV/AIDS occurs everywhere.
Adeleke explained that the 90-90-90 Initiative stipulates that 90% of people living with HIV should know their status and that 90% of these people after knowing their status should start medications by having access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and subsequently such that the spread of the disease would be contained to a very large extent.
She also revealed that the agency is planning to double its efforts to increase its HIV Testing Services (HTS) in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Dr. Oladipupo Fisher who also spoke at the programme disclosed that there is an Anti-Stigma Law in Lagos State which clearly makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against those suffering from the virus.
He urged the religious leaders to be part of the control of AIDS at the community level by sensitising their members.
The CEO maintained that the issue of stigma against HIV-positive individuals remains the greatest challenge to curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, while calling on the religious leaders to join hands with the government to change the narratives.