Ending HIV, AIDS by 2030: NACA extends strategic outreach programme
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says it has further extended its Strategic Travelers’ Outreach Programme (STOP) to some West African states as one of the approaches aimed at ending HIV and AIDS in 2030.
Dr Sani Aliyu, Director-General, NACA, said in Abuja on Friday that the agency would conduct sensitisation programme as part of STOP on the platform of Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation (ALCO).
He said the success of the previous STOP programme in 2013 along key transport corridors in Kano (Wudil), Kogi (Obajana), Enugu (Obollo-Afor) and Ogun (Shagamu), informed the choice of ALCO as a veritable platform for sensitising more people to the need for fighting HIV and AIDS.
According to him, NACA engages a reputable AIDS service organisation and through a collaborative and community-driven process, designs STOP which has been useful as one of the approaches to stopping HIV and AIDS.
He said the previous survey revealed several social structures indicative of high levels of transactional sex.
“The associated knowledge, attitude and practice survey showed that a majority of respondents were sexually active transport workers and over a third of them had between two and five sex partners within a year.
He also said 62 per cent of transport workers reported more than one regular sexual partner, observing that only 7 per cent of the respondents reported mean sex with their spouses.
“Majority of respondents knew a location where they could get tested but only about half of the respondents had ever been tested for HIV.
“Knowledge about condoms was high, with 93 per cent having heard about condoms at all the survey sites but only 70 per cent of all the respondents reported having ever used a condom.
“The assessment also showed that there are still gaps between the knowledge of HIV and sexual behavior necessary to curb the spread of HIV as well as high risk behavior along the transport corridors of Nigeria.
He said the findings would enable NACA and other stakeholders plan and pilot interventions to identify and address policy issues and develop relevant strategies for effective interventions.
According to him, the goal of NACA is to address all HIV and AIDS challenge prevalent in Nigeria, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire corridors through the support of ALCO.
Speaking on the importance of transport workers in the programme, Dr Anthonia Ekpa, a director in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, said it was imperative to stimulate them for the purpose of getting them to know what their responsibilities ought to be in that regard.
“We have an overriding responsibility to bring them together in the ministry and advise them on what to do as they constitute sections of the society that are vulnerable to the pandemic,’’ she said.
In his remark, Dr Erasmus Morah, Country Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), applauded ALCO initiative.
He said transport workers and those who could identify themselves as sex workers were involved in the programme because their activities affected the economy and social life that needed collaboration.
ALCO is a sub-regional organisation that supports policies for development, health and free movement in its member states Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
ALCO is an actor in the coalition’s health to identify and validate currently known key drivers in the management of the epidemic in the corridors.
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