The Annual International AIDS Candlelight memorial, beyond being a grass root mobilization campaign for HIV Awareness in the world, it is also an opportunity to address key issues that fuel the spread of the virus thereby making getting to zero a mirage. As we remember those that have died of AIDS, we need the support of everyone to encourage others to live positively. The 2019 theme is intensifying the fight for health and rights!

*Edo State HIV prevalence is 1.9 (NAIIS 2018) which is worrisome because the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) 2018 revealed that majority of cases that make up the 1.9 are new infections. This is an indication that a lot of work still needs to be done to stop new infections. The Edo State Government has made a remarkable step in the HIV Response the by ensuring that the Agency (EDOSACA) in place to address HIV related matters.*

There is an urgent need to pay close attention to the negative effect of Unhealthy Economic, Social, Religious, Political, Cultural, Environmental and Educational factors as they fuel the spread of HIV especially in cases where Human Rights are violated. The need to uphold the Human Rights in all ramifications is important as well as making health care (especially information) accessible to all without any form of discrimination. We are deeply concerned with the higher HIV prevalence in women who in our society have been victims of all forms of human right violation. We can quickly reflect on the numerous case of violence against women in the recent past.

*There are laws and policies to address the socioeconomic issues that fuel the spread of HIV if they would be implemented. In the words of Governor Godwin Obaseki, Of what use is the law if it is not implemented*

Finally, we all know that HIV is not only medical, we use this opportunity to appeal ALL Authorities (public and private) in Edo State to stand up, make their inputs and join resources to ending AIDS. Thanks for being part of this Memorial.

Dr. Bright E. Oniovokukor, State Coordinator, CiSHAN Edo (08052735427)

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