World AIDS day: Student group takes free HIV intervention to FCT community

To commemorate the 2021 World AIDS Day, Pioneer Masters of Public Health (MPH) students of Nile university carried out a sensitisation programme in Kuchingoro – a densely populated community in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Pioneer Masters of Public Health students of Nile university during community outreach to sensitise and provide free testing for residents of Kuchingoro as part of activities to mark World AIDS Day 2021.

The students sensitise the residents on various way to prevent the transmission of HIV infections. 

As part of the programme, MPH also provided free testing, guidance and counselling for residents of the community. 

Speaking at the event, Course Representative of the Pioneer Cohort, Sulayman Abu-bakr said that the theme of the WAD, “End inequalities. End AIDS”stressed the need to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, tackle HIV stigma, and call for increased response. 

“In our outreach, where we carried out free testing, counselling and sensitization, we still observed people continue to hold misleading information about HIV/AIDS. Misinformation hinders efforts to eradicate the HIV/AIDS pandemic, this is why seminars such as these are important to remind us of all of where we are and where we need to be. We must remember that as public health professionals, we have a duty to enlighten those around us,” he said.

Quoting recent UNAIDS statistics,Abu-bakr said 38 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and in 2020 alone, 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV. 

“While millions of people today are accessing life-saving antiretroviral therapy, millions more still desperately need it. While COVID has understandably been at the forefront of the global health movement, we can’t afford to drop momentum in our battle against – “the other pandemic,” he said.

He said the outreach had 16 members of Pioneer MPH cohort as well a 5-man team from Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) to carry out free testing. Of the 55 people tested, Abu-bakr informed that 54 returned negative while 1 person tested positive. 

Zara Abba Aji in her presentation on “Targeting Key Populations in the fight Against HIV/AIDS”  discussed the key population that HIV affects the most with focus on MSM (Men who have sex with men). 

She talked about the context of homosexuality in Nigeria breaking it down to those who do it as part of spiritual ritual and those who are homosexuals but get married to women to fit societal norms and bisexual men who tend to engage in risky sexual behaviour. 

World AIDS DAY

World AIDS day is celebrated December 1 every year to honour the people who have fallen to the disease as well as people living with HIV.

It is also celebrated to raise awareness on the disease and the need for people to know their status.

More woes

A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that, at least, one child globally was infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) every two minutes in 2020.

The report, which was released to commemorate the WAD indicates that not less than 300,000 children globally were newly infected with HIV in 2020.

It also shows that 120,000 children died from AIDS-related causes during the same period, or one child every five minutes.

According to the report, two in five children living with HIV worldwide do not know their status, and just over half of children with HIV are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART)

The report shows that, at least, one Nigerian child between the ages 0-9 years was infected with HIV every 30 minutes in 2020.

This means that about 20,695 children in Nigeria were newly infected with HIV in 2020.

It also indicates that in Nigeria, about 30 per cent of AIDS-related deaths in 2020 occurred in children.

“Alarmingly, only about 3.5 per cent of the 1,629,427 Nigerians receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) are children, revealing a big treatment gap,” the report said.

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