The Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.
Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News men in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.
Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.
“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.
The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.
According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.
Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.
He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.