NACA inaugurates HIV/AIDS stigma reduction strategy
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) is set to host a national scientific conference on Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) prevention to showcase the achievements of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) response in Nigeria even as it has inaugurated the National HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Strategy and a Simplified Version of HIV Anti-Discrimination Act 2014, with supporting verses from the Bible and Q’uran.
Both documents are strategic to removing stigma and discrimination at all strata of society.The landmark Conference organised by NACA is part of activities to commemorate World AIDS Day 2016, December 1, under the theme “Hands on for HIV prevention.”
While HIV/AIDS Stigma reduction Strategy is to align with the efforts of various stakeholders in the area of prevention intervention in addressing HIV- related stigma and discrimination in their various health and non-health settings to bring about synergy, the latter is aimed to give religious understanding, insights and interpretations to the Anti-Discrimination Act. This would help define the behavioural dispositions of adherents of religious faith and whittle down the social evil.
Acting Director General of NACA, Dr. Kayode Ogungbemi, acknowledged the progress made in reducing HIV in Nigeria. He noted that the improvements have been a result of ‘’cumulative result of various activities ranging from awareness campaigns and other behaviour change interventions’’ but regretted that despite these gains over the decades stigma is still a worrying phenomenon ‘’which may constitute a major threat to the gains and outstanding opportunities to end the epidemic.’’
Represented by Dr. Emmanuel Alhassan, Director, Partnership Coordination, the DG noted that the signing into law of HIV Anti-Discrimination Act 2014 was a watershed in the fight against the pandemic and urged States not to introduce clauses that would impede the fundamental provisions of the Act with regards to human rights.
Meanwhile, Head, Corporate Communications Unit, NACA, Mrs. Toyin Aderibigbe, in a statement, said the Conference will take place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on November 29 and 30 with participants from relevant government departments and agencies, research institutions, the private sector, develop partner agencies and representatives of people living with or affected by HIV.
Hands on for Prevention’, signifies the fact that Nigeria’s national response aligns with the present global direction of increasing HIV prevention efforts. The conference aims at showcasing the achievements, discussing the lessons learnt and seeking to set the pace for tackling prevention gaps.
Aderigbigbe said the Nigeria HIV Prevention Conference 2016 will bring together a range of experts to advance knowledge, present new research findings, as well as promote and enhance scientific and community collaborations. It will also be a platform for discussions on development of new strategies for addressing HIV, especially in the area of HIV prevention.
Chairperson Organising Committee of the Conference,Dr. Akudo Ikpeazu, said: “We welcome participants from all sectors: government, business, community, civil society, academia and others. It is my hope that participants will all take advantage of the conference and the opportunities it presents for networking, forming new collaborations and strengthening old partnerships to strengthen HIV prevention efforts.”
Keynote speakers from within and outside the country will be invited for this meeting. Presentations at the Conference have been organised under four knowledge areas including behavioural, biomedical, structural, as well as key populations issues.
Over 250 participants have already concluded the registration process and intending participants are encouraged to register online, as soon as possible, through the Conference’s website: http://www.hivprevention2016.com.ng/
Acting Director General of NACA, Dr. Kayode Ogungbemi, said: “To facilitate our planning, registration for participation in the Conference is already underway. I am encouraging any interested individual to visit the Conference’s website and register for this important event as soon as possible. For more information, kindly visit: http://www.hivprevention2016.com.ng/ or www.naca.gov.ng.”
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