The Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS (NiBUCCA) has launched the first pilot phase of the ‘I know My status’ project in Abuja, Ebonyi, and Edo states to tackle the HIV/AIDS scourge in the country.
The initiative is developed from the End HIV Campaign and designed and implemented to increase the knowledge of vulnerable people on their HIV status and enough safe sexual practices through HIV Testing Services and dissemination of Sexual and Reproductive Health information.
The End HIV Campaign championed by NiBUCAA seeks to reduce the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection via HIV testing, communication, and technology strategies.
Isaiah Owolabi, chief executive, NiBUCAA highlighted the importance of the project, saying it is expedient to reduce the incidence of HIV in the country.
“There is a need for continuous dissemination of sexual and reproductive health information; HIV prevention and treatment information; continuous HIV counseling and testing especially among adolescent and young people, women, and transport workers. This is because these populations fall within the high prevalence age bracket,’’ he said.
The project targets communities with a high presence of Adolescent and Young People (AYP), proximity to referral centres, a high number of vulnerable population, poor health-seeking behaviour and a high number of hotspots.
Also, Oluwatobi Ojo, monitoring and evaluation officer at AIDS Healthcare Foundation noted that the intervention is an eye-opener as it revealed the agitations of some people in the communities regarding HIV testing.
Ojo also stated that there is a need for increased awareness in rural areas as knowing one’s HIV status is key to societal progress.
The initiative engaged community mobilisers and corps members in door-to-door sensitisation, interpersonal communications, sensitization at primary healthcare centres and the distribution of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on Knowing One’s HIV status.
The IEC materials were translated to Hausa, Igbo, and pidgin for community members to better understand the information passed across.
Also, HIV Testing services were also conducted for over 700 participants across all the states, with six reactive cases which were reported and referred to the nearest referral centre. Condoms were also distributed to participants to encourage safe sex practices.