By Henry Uche, Lagos
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has reiterated its commitment to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS by the end of 2030. NACA Director-General Gambo Aliyu made this known in Lagos at the end of a two-week empowerment programme organised by NACA, the Lagos State government with the support of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for people living with HIV/AIDS, indigent citizens and other vulnerable persons.
The empowerment training spans plumbing, interlocking & tiling, masonry, hairdressing/barbing, confectioneries and other crafts, where every participant was given work tools/ implements and other materials, including cash at the end of two-weeks training.
At the event, the NACA DG revealed that over 8.2 million persons living with HIV/AIDS have already been tested last year, while the agency expects over eight million people to show interest in testing to know their status.
‘We are pushing for the last mile. We have tested 8.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS last year, we want to also address socio-economic and cultural imbalances, we are working with the private sector and we are going around the six geopolitical zones in the country. We have trained youth within the ages of 18 to 35 in different skills, we have trained 900 within the last two weeks. We want to address poverty to discourage social vices,’ he stated.
Representing Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, Monsurat Adeleke, affirmed that the governor is not leaving any stone unturned in eradicating HIV and fighting COVID-19 and other viral diseases to a standstill.
‘The governor is collaborating with strategic groups to get rid of these diseases from the state. Last week the government synergized with the ministry of wealth Creation to mark World Partisans Day, the governor has already procured over 1500 sterilizing kits for hairstylists and barbers to avoid transmission of these diseases. We are also moving from Campus to campus sensitizing students, today we have empowered 180 youths in different skills and we are not stopping here, because a budget has been prepared for all these,’ she said.
She noted that the effort was in line with the 95-95-95 initiative of the United Nations where 95% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 95% of people who know their status are on treatment while 95% of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads, but the Lagos State is most interested in the suppression of the viral disease. ‘We have over 288 testing centres in Lagos where people can go and do their test for free,’ she added.
NACA Board Chairman Senator Dipo Odujinrin encouraged beneficiaries of the programme to maximize the opportunity by multiplying the skills in their respective crafts. ‘You must not waste this effort and you must not sell the work tools given to you. We do not want you to engage in evils of any kind, we want to give you a sense of belonging, therefore you must be good ambassadors of the country,’ he stressed.