PAKWACH. A section of women in Oloyomunyomu village, Panyango Sub County have implored the Pakwach district health department to consider decentralizing HIV testing and counselling services to villages.

The women said once services like HIV counselling and tests as well as antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinics are brought closer to people in their villages, the burden of moving long distances will be reduced especially for people living with HIV.

The appeal was made during a community sensitization outreach organized by Jonam youth development initiative (JOYODI) at Pokwero trading centre on Monday.

According to Ms Hellen Oyella, ever since the death of her husband three years ago, affording transport to Pakwach health centre IV to check on her viral load has been a big challenge.

She said many people living with HIV find it hard to move long distances for HIV services on empty stomach.

“It is better for these services to be brought to our villages so that we can have easy access to them. Moving up to Pakwach health centre is hard for us who have no money,” Oyella said.

Besides, she noted that majority of the people living with HIV are scared to reveal their status due to stigma subjected to them by members of the community.

But Mr Geoffrey Oromchan Wuna, the HIV focal person Pakwach health centre IV said efforts put by the district to construct ART clinics in each village has been hampered by lack of funds.

He, however, urged government to consider allocating adequate budget to the health department so as to address the challenge in the near future.

Meanwhile Oromchan observed that cases of stigma are so common in Pakwach and as a result, many clients prefer getting anti-viral drugs from far health units where they are hardly known.

Oromchan said the practice has led to shortage of the drugs in such health units.

He also noted that testing is an important tool of achieving the 90-90-90 target and enable people to make an informed choice about HIV prevention.

During the recent world AIDs day celebration at Alwi sub county, Dr Paul Ajal, the Pakwach district health officer advocated for sex education among adolescents and adherence to HIV drugs so as to fight the scourge.