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Falana, group to fight injustice against people with HIV

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana and the Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), a non-governmental organisation that promotes access to qualitative healthcare and education, have…

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana and the Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), a non-governmental organisation that promotes access to qualitative healthcare and education, have resolved to fight injustice against people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Falana, announced the partnership at the the flagg-off of ECEWS United States government-funded project tagged: “ECEWS’ CDC funded Sustainable Programs for HIV Epidemic Control and Equitable Service Delivery (ECEWS-SPEED) Project” over the weekend in Lagos.
He said there are laws that protect PLHIV from being stigmatised or discriminated against, noting that “it is illegal for a landlord not to rent home to PLHIV.”
“It is also illegal for a hospital not to treat PLHIV, and it is illegal to deny PLHIV employment,” he added.
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Falana pledged to collaborate with ECEWS to fight the scourge and ensure Nigerian government is more proactive while appealing to religious and traditional leaders to join in the fight against the virus.
He said that the government of Nigeria is not doing enough in the fight against HIV in Nigeria, adding that is still massive ignorance, despite the fact that the virus had been in the country for decades.
Falana said, “I am rendering my legal services to ensure that we enforce the laws in combating this virus, and I am convinced that we can win the battle by 2030. I am urging the government to take ownership of HIV programmes and philanthropists in Nigeria and the diaspora to also step in because this programme should be run in the 36 states and FCT.
“We need to give the same attention to HIV as Ebola and COVID-19. We would have reached the elimination stage. So, we need to give priority to the health of Nigerians.”
Andy Eyo, ECEWS Chief Executive Officer, said the project is aimed at reducing HIV- related morbidity and mortality, achieve sustainable epidemic control for HIV across sub-populations and sub-national geographies, reduce HIV incidence for at-risk populations and to the sustainability of state governments and civil society organisations to lead and manage comprehensive HIV programmes, among others.
According to Eyo, ECEWS will provide HIV services across the three states.
He said, “We will provide HIV services to over 100,000 PLHIV in Delta state, over 8,000 PLHIV in Ekiti and over 16,000 in Osun state. We want people to know that HIV is not a death sentence. People should come through if they are positive. They should be able to access medications, get virally suppressed and lead normal lives. For those who are negative, we want them to stay that way by living a preventive lifestyle.”
The technical director of the ECEWS SPEED project, Dr Abutu Inedu, said the goal is to attain HIV epidemic control which is defined as 95:95:95.
This means that 95 per cent of the PLHIV should know their HIV status, placed on sustained antiretroviral therapy, and are virally suppressed, Inedu explained.
He disclosed that in Delta state, the mandate is to ensure that PLHIV that are already on treatment should remain on it and to actively find the missing cases, especially among the pediatric.
“In Ekiti and Osun states, the gap is wide in that HIV treatment saturation for Ekiti state, for instance, is a little above 60 per cent and above 40 per cent in Osun state. This means that we need to bridge the gap by increasing that figure to at least 81 per cent. In addition, we are going to target the subpopulation, which is the major gap in the country”.
“We are going to use all the resources available to search for them. We will be testing within the communities, in the hospital, and anywhere they can be found, and place those who are positive on treatment,” he added.

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