Catholics ‘walk’, offer free tests to end HIV/AIDS
DETERMINED to end Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos Heath Department (CALHD) organized awareness and sensitization rally with free tests through Shogunle, Ladipo, Oshodi and Mafoluku in Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Areas (LGAs).
The event, which ran between November 25 and December 1, 2015, to mark the annual World AIDS Week celebration took off from St John the Evangelist Catholic Church 2 Wuraola Street, Ladipo-Shogunle with theme “Getting to Zero.”
The Oba of Ewuland His Royal Majesty Oba S.A. Kuti and High Chief R.B. Ajisegiri Baale of Shogunle spearheaded the grassroots awareness and sensitization campaigns in their various domains.
There was free HIV Test with large turnout of people. The coordinator and Head of Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos Health Department (CALHD), Reverend Sister Theresa Afareha spearheaded the planning with many medical and ad-hoc paramedical personnel’s fully involved in the exercise.
The first day was the free HIV/AIDS test held at Shogunle Town hall, followed by awareness and sensitization talks for Secondary School Students at the Dominican Secondary school St. Jude Catholic Church Mafoluku and Bortsworth Private Secondary School (Senior Students) Ewutuntun respectively. The test was also held at Oba of Ewuland’s compound
The coordinator Rev. Sister Afareha responded to questions regarding the result of efforts at controlling HIV/AIDS scourge in Lagos State said that in the last three years with considerable efforts the rate of infection has dropped. “In 2013, of an estimated 300 people tested, 12 people were positive. In 2014, seven were positive out of 350 people tested and in 2015 of the 270 people, five tested positive which shows considerable gradual decline in prevalence rate.” She encourages “total abstinence from reckless and unprotected sexual life style rather than being deceived by the use of condoms campaign.”
In most catholic hospitals in Lagos, free HIV/AIDS test, counseling and treatment are provided. She enjoined Lagosians to take advantage of this exercise to control the menace and live a healthy normal life. It was observed that self inflicted stigmatization and fear have been responsible for the low interest in accessing HIV/AIDS test centres for the test.
She regretted that absence of governments, philanthropic and international donor agencies limit their capacity to expand the scope of their operation to give this all important health benefits to thousand of Nigerians that need it. She thanked the Caritas for all their support saying that a more positive and conscious lifestyles would help combat it, whilst calling on philanthropic individuals, companies and international donor agencies to collaborate with this structured catholic institution to sustain the war against HIV/AIDS and free our world.
The Local Organizing Committee thanked the parish priest of St John the Evangelist Catholic Church Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Obayomi, doctor and matron of St. John’s hospital for providing the platform for the exercise.
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