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Twenty Years with HIV: A Survivor's Story from Rivers State

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Bright Francis, a resilient individual living with the HIV/AIDS virus for 20 years shared his journey with Nigeria Info. His story sheds light on the challenges he faced, the support he received, and the positive outlook he maintains.

Bright Francis recounted the moment he learned about his HIV-positive status. Despite the initial shock,  he emphasized the pivotal role of support groups and dedicated health workers in helping him navigate the complexities of living with the disease.

These groups not only offered him a sense of belonging but also served as platforms for sharing experiences and coping strategies. Francis now prides himself on being a role model to others who are discovering they are living with the virus.

Over the years, Francis has faced various challenges associated with his health condition but has maintained a positive outlook on life. He stressed the importance of a supportive environment in fostering hope and resilience.

His story serves as an inspiring testament to the strength of individuals living with HIV when surrounded by understanding communities.

On World AIDS Day (December 1), Francis expressed his gratitude for the awareness campaigns and initiatives aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. He encouraged others facing similar circumstances to seek support, emphasizing the transformative impact it had on his own life. Bright Francis's narrative provides a personal perspective on living with HIV in Rivers State.

As the state grapples with high prevalence rates, his story has become a beacon of hope, illustrating the transformative power of community support and the resilience of individuals facing the challenges of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS Prevalence in Rivers State

Rivers ranks as the third-highest Nigerian state with HIV/AIDs prevalence. This is according to the 2018 National Aids Indicator and Impact Survey conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Maryland University, US.

On World AIDS Day, the State Commissioner for Health, Adaeze Oreh, addressed the concerning data and outlined the government's commitment to addressing the issue.

Mrs. Oreh revealed that Rivers State's ranking, trailing only behind Akwa Ibom and Benue States, underscores the severity of the HIV/AIDS situation in the region.

She expressed the state government's deep concern for individuals unaware of their HIV status and affirmed the commitment to enhancing the quality of life for those living with the virus. In alignment with the global theme for World AIDS Day 2023, "Let Communities Lead," Mrs. Oreh emphasized the significance of community-led initiatives in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her statements shed light on the need for collective efforts to address the challenges posed by the virus.

Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria

The Rivers State Coordinator for the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Blessing Chigozim, highlighted the impact of recent economic realities on individuals living with the virus. Ms. Chigozim said that many individuals lack the financial means to access transportation for picking up essential medications from health centers.

She urged governments at all levels to empower individuals living with HIV/AIDS to alleviate these challenges. She also called on the residents of Rivers State to undergo HIV testing, emphasizing the importance of early detection for effective management and control of the virus.

Let Communities Lead!

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made to date, raise awareness about the challenges that remain to achieve the goals of ending AIDS by 2030 and mobilize all stakeholders to jointly redouble efforts to ensure the success of the HIV response. The World Health Organization (WHO) is joining international partners to acknowledge the resilience, dedication, and innovation exemplified by community leaders and organizations in the response to the HIV epidemic.

Speaking on this, WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said people living with or affected by HIV have left an indelible mark on the world with their activism. “The affected communities who fought for tools to prevent, test, and treat HIV enabled 30 million people to access antiretroviral therapy and helped to avert an unknowable number of infections,” he said.

We stand together with communities to help end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”


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