AVAC SENSITIZE JOURNALISTS ON OTHER HIV PREVENTION OPTIONS
… Urges FG, AKSG to support Dapivirine Viginal Ring availability
As A’Ibom tops the list in HIV prevalence
By Emmanuel Ufon
One of the leading international advocacy group, Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) Fellow 2020/21 Miss Aseme Josephine in collaboration with a fronts line Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria, Heartland Alliance LTD/GTE has sensitized no fewer than 35 journalists in Akwa Ibom State on other biomedical HIV prevention options aside from the use of condom and abstinence from sex.
Speaking during a half-day media round table discussion on Friday, April 30, 2021, in Uyo the State capital, the AVAC fellow, Ms. Josephine Aseme said the meeting focuses on the importance of GON and donor commitment to a wider array of biomedical prevention options as a game-changer in reducing new infections in Nigeria. Such as the Oral Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Dapivirine ring and injectable Long -Acting Cabotegravir (CAB-LA)and and investment in community HIV prevention messaging tools across various media platforms and entertainment channels.
According to her, “we are into community-centered and policy changed advocacy that focuses on advocating for Supportive Policy and Programs for effective PrEP and other HIV prevention Implementations for Key populations in Nigeria.
” This ensures that proven available HIV prevention options are accessible by all persons at risk of acquiring HIV in Nigeria without cost or any form of stigma.
The donor agencies have tried their best on commitment in endorsing newly approved and recommended biomedical prevention tools and drugs. Government should also ensure the availability of these drugs like Dapivirine Vaginal Ring, increase access to prevention technologies with a good legal framework that will sustain the prevention projects.
“We also called on media organizations to utilize all media platforms and create awareness of available service delivery points to actualize increased uptake of HIV prevention and testing services for better coverage”.
On his part, Mr. Michael Akanji, a representative of Heartland Alliance LTD/GTE, decried on how Akwa Ibom State leads in HIV prevalence in Nigeria with 5.5%, while Mbo local government area records the highest rate of HIV prevalence in the state.
With the aid of PowerPoint presentation, Akanji affirmed that the latest study of key population constituting 1.4% in Nigeria shows that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS amongst sex workers staying in the brothels stands at 19.4%, non-brothel based sex workers has 8.6%; people at the correctional facilities has 2.8%, and men sleeping with men including some of them who might have also be married to women, has the record of 22.9%, noting that this key population still lives in the larger society with chances of infecting more people.
While emphasizing that it is more expensive to treat HIV/AIDS than to prevent, he pointed out that only 14,000 sex workers have been reached through behavioral intervention, stressing that 408,472 persons have not been reached but there are 30,638 that have been tested with a vast number of them being unable to get treatment