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Taking HIV sensitisation to schools key to ending transimission of virus, says Africare

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In commemoration of the 2020 World’s AIDS day, Africare Nigeria through the Power Forward Project has taken sensitisation to schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to raise awareness and educate students on Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) prevention and care for people living with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The project, which is funded by ExxonMobil in collaboration with National Basketball Association (NBA), provides Life skills and public heath training to students in secondary schools. Since 2013, the project has a working presence in 30 public and private secondary schools in the FCT.

According to Torkuma Gbaa, the Project Officer for Africare, “Power Forward Project is a youth development project that uses the game of basketball and social media as a convening platform to teach public health and life skills.”

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For the World AIDS Day activity, he said: “We commemorate AIDS Day with the global community to show our shared commitment and responsibility to reduce the impact of the disease in our communities. We want to show that we are aware of these public health issues and want to participate in raising awareness through these activities to try and impact our community positively by engaging the students. Young people from ages 15 and above are most likely to practice and engage in unsafe sex; so the aim of the activity is to raise awareness that HIV/AIDS is still real and a cause for concern.

“If students are proponents of the HIV/AIDS message, it is expected to be more impactful and be more useful to them; in turn, as carriers of the HIV/AIDS message they can spread the word to raise more awareness and reduce the surge of HIV/AIDS in our community. We believe that this information can reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Africa and the World.”

He added: “Abstinence is the key to reduce the spread of HIV among young persons. For me, Knowledge on its own is not power; but what we do with the knowledge is what makes it powerful.”

Coach Chibuzor Okeleke, a project coach for Power Forward stated that world AIDS Day is an activity created not only to raise awareness to prevent oneself against contracting the disease but also for people to know that there is life after contracting the virus; as contracting HIV is not the end of world.

“Those who are infected with HIV can still live a normal life even after contracting the disease. Our role in the community is to encourage them to live their lives and not stigmatize them for them for contracting the disease.”

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Also, Funmilayo Kayode, Principal Government Secondary School, Zone 3 Wuse reiterated the need for awareness as the disease is very active adding, “in as much as COVID 19 is taking the center stage we should not forget that HIV/AIDS is very much around us.”

According to Uwabor Lucky Nelson of Total Child Model Secondary School, “Using basketball as a platform to teach life skills and public awareness is really impactful to students in my school and the immediate environment. In addition to HIV/AIDS other days such as World Environment Day and Menstrual Hygiene lectures raise awareness and interest among beneficiaries of the project and other students not involved in the project.

Daniel Ikpeama, one of the student participant appreciated the organisation for the enlightenment and stated that he never knew a pregnant mother could transmit to a child if not managed by a health professional describing how he had felt hearing that a child could suffer for what was no fault of his, while promising to pass the message on to all whom he comes in contact with.

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