The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Nigeria on Thursday stressed the need to strengthen intervention, saying Tuberculosis (TB) still ranks high in Benue State.
Antiritroviral Therapy Physician Site Coordinator of AHF in Benue, Dr. Avatar Aondohemba, made the observation during a sensitisation walk organised by AHF in Makurdi to mark this year’s World Tuberculosis Day.
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“We are carrying out this advocacy today to create awareness to the effect that TB can be treated and is curable. We are creating awareness to let people know that when we get early treatment, chances of other people getting infected decreases.
“The TB cases in Benue are still quite high because HIV and TB almost go hand in hand. That is why AHF has stepped up and optimised its level of TB prevention across all our facilities in collaboration with other major partners,” he said.
Aondohemba added, “Africa is highly hit by this tuberculosis scourge. Worldwide, we have between eight million to nine million TB cases every year with about 1.5 million deaths out of which we have 100,000 children deaths yearly. It’s preventable and curable.”
Also, the Prevention Manager, AHF Nigeria, Taofeek Adeleye, posited that as an organization that focuses on HIV services, it was important to put under control TB/HIV co-infections which is actually heavier.
“Coming from that background that we have more than 500 new cases of TB in Nigeria every year, it’s important for us to encourage our clients to be wary of TB. Each time we ensure that HIV clients enrol in care. Part of what we do is enrol them on preventive therapy for tuberculosis to reduce their chances of being infected with TB and perhaps other opportunistic infections.
“You know HIV is an immune compromise infection and TB also has the same characteristics. When you have somebody who is infected with HIV also coming down with TB, it makes it quite challenging to handle such case at the clinical stage,” he said.
AHF State Nursing Coordinator, Ruth Atabo, said because TB is very infectious, the organisation embarked on contact tracing once a patient was confirmed positive while the patient was placed on drugs.
Atabo said, “That’s why we said that early diagnosis and early treatment helps to prevent the spread of TB. It takes between six to 12 months for a TB patient to complete treatment. Like I said, TB is curable if you get the right treatment.
“So, please, let’s end the stigma against TB. That’s what we are doing today. We want to create that awareness for people to know that TB can be prevented and is curable.”