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Expert laments rising cases of child HIV infections in Gombe

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The Programme Officer of the Gombe State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Hassan Mohammed, has raised concerns about the increasing number of children infected with HIV, attributing this trend in part to rising cases of gender-based violence in the state.

Mohammed made this disclosure during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the 2023 “16 Days of Activism” campaign organized by the Centre for Integrated Health Programmes.

Mohammed highlighted the disturbing rise in child rape and homosexuality among adolescents, noting that these factors contribute significantly to the spread of HIV in Gombe.

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He further pointed to recent actions taken by the state governor, who suspended prominent individuals accused of sexually harassing children, demonstrating the seriousness with which GBV is being addressed.

“In SACA, we believe these are some of the drivers towards HIV in Gombe State. Small children and even mentally ill individuals are being raped,” he stated. “This is why these infections spread within our society.”

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Bashir Musa, a senior manager at CHIP, echoed Mohammed’s concerns, emphasizing the cultural dimensions of GBV in the state.

He lamented the stigma faced by victims, particularly those who have been raped, which prevents them from reporting these instances and allows perpetrators to escape punishment.

Musa revealed that CHIP will undertake several awareness campaigns throughout the 16-day period, aiming to encourage victims to report instances of sexual assault and minimize the prevalence of GBV in Gombe.

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Asma’u Ignanus, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, provided a broader definition of GBV, encompassing physical, sexual, mental, and economic harm inflicted on individuals due to societal power dynamics between genders.

She further emphasized that threats, coercion, and deprivation of liberty, both public and private, constitute forms of GBV.

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