Features  |  Health  

NACA takes HIV testing to Lagos, Nasarawa

By Emeka Anuforo, Joke Falaju (Abuja) and Victoria Njoku (Lagos) |   17 December 2015   |   4:51 am  

Residents of Shomolu, Lagos State benefitting from free four-day medical care programme organized by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), which ran from Monday December 14 to Thursday December 17, 2015 at strategic locations within the Shomolu Local Government Area (LGA). PHOTO: VICTORIA NJOKU

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) will today conclude a four day free medical screening programme consisting of HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT), test for diabetes, hypertension and malaria as well as deworming for children Awofeso Olaleye Market in Shomolu Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State.

Over 5,000 residents of Shomolu are expected to have benefitted from this four-day free medical care programme, which ran from Monday December 14 to Thursday December 17, 2015 at strategic locations within the Shomolu LGA.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris at the event said that the burden of the disease has reduced nationally and that because of the population, we see people infected with the disease and they are not tested.

“In the past, people think it is a death sentence but it is not. You can be treated if infected. School children also should be informed on this so as to steer clear of any form of disease. We have talked with the government to see to this issue and this is why we are having this programme. We urge all to come out for testing and counseling,” he said.

Speaking at the flag-off of the programme at Olaleye Market, Shomolu, the Principal Programme Officer of NACA, Mrs. Ronke Adeoye noted that the HCT outreach campaign is geared towards making residents to know their Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) status through counseling testing and help achieve the 2030 goal of zero new infection, zero discrimination against people living with HIV as well as zero AIDS related death.

Adeoye said: “This programme is organized by NACA and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) office. The whole essence is to get people tested and to know their HIV/AIDS status. We found out that people will not ordinarily go to the clinic for testing, so we thought it wise that is better to bring the testing to their doorstep; and as a result of this we have sensitized the people and the community to come out for testing.”

Adeoye stated that residents are also opportuned to do blood pressure test, blood sugar test and malaria test in addition to HIV counseling and testing adding that children will also have the opportunity to be dewormed while people also have access to free medications.

“This outreach is very important because as a Nation we want to get to zero by 2030; which means that by 2030 we want to have zero new infection, zero discrimination against people living with HIV as well as zero AIDS related death,” the programme officer said.

Meanwhile, NACA has taken extra steps to check prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Nasarawa state.

To strengthen its efforts in this regards, the Organization has organized a major medical outreach to increase awareness.

World Health Organization (WHO) that ranked Nasarawa State as the fourth largest state with the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

The medical outreach programme organized in a student community in Keffi Local Government Area of the state was aimed at encouraging the students to know their HIV status.

The Project Supervisor, Initiative for Health Care and Awareness, David Muze, disclosed that because of the alarming rate of the spread of the virus, NACA had decided to organized the outreach programme in Akwanga and Keffi as part of effort to gradually reduce the spread.

He noted that many people are still shy to come out and run the test “and that was we hide under the guise multiple diseases treatment so that people can actually know there status.

Muze pointed out that other test being carried out include blood pressure, body weight, malaria, sugar level among others.

The four-day programme supported by the Federal Government through Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) aim to reach 7000 people with free medical treatment and to know the HIV status in Keffi in addition to reducing the multiple disease in the state.

The coordinating doctor of the medical outreach, Dr. Akukwe Marcel stressed the need to raise awareness of the virus to curb the spread.

Noting that government was able to curtail the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in 2014 because of increased awareness, he stressed the need to do the same with HIV/AID to curtail the spread.

Akukwe who said the level of awareness is still low stressed the need for government to take the sensitization to the communities, towns and villages.

Meanwhile, Adeoye expressed optimism that the 2030 target is possible if only people can come out and know their status stressing that the only way this can be done is through counseling and testing.

“This is why we have brought the HIV counseling and testing to their door step in the community where the people reside to help them in the quest to get counseled and tested; it is our belief that if we do this, we will actually get to our target by 2030,”Adeoye said.

She noted that most important prevention against HIV/AIDS is for people to abstain from risky behaviour and use protection like condoms. She added that that prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission of HIV is possible stressing that pregnant women who are HIV positive can actually give birth to HIV negative children.

Adeoye said: “This outreach is actually going on other states and the Federal Capital Territory including 12 states that are HIV positive endemic states; the essence is to make people come out to get tested, that is why we are taking the campaign to them.

“We do not want a situation where people will be down with the sickness before they go to the hospital; we want to forestall this scenario by bringing the service to their door step and this is why we are using market spaces and bus stops where people can easily access HCT services.”

Idris added: “As a responsible government it is our duty to ensure that we prevent our people from contacting HIV/AIDS and that is why we have started this programme with our National body; NACA so that everybody will understand what HIV/AIDS is all about, how it is spread and how we can prevent ourselves from contacting it.”

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