The Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative, YEDI, has urged the federal and state government not to allow the quest to tackle COVID-19 pandemic to overshadow the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
Speaking in Lagos during a programme to sensitise Mushin community area on HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Director of YEDI, Mr. Oje Ivagba said corporate organisations should set up something similar to CACOVID to support the government as the foreign donation towards HIV/AIDs is no longer sustainable.
He said there was a disruption in the supply chain of HIV/AIDS materials due to global lockdown from COVID-19, “People are having sex without condoms, those that require medication are having challenges despite the initial inadequate HIV treatment which is a gap Nigeria needs to meet.
“Nigeria needs to think about HIV the same way as CACOVID, we can’t just be depending on foreign donors. Internally we need to bridge this gap especially now that the international community focus attention on COVID-19 because of the emergency it presents. So the HIV/AIDS gap need to be met internally.
“We shouldn’t let COVID-19 be an excuse for us not to do all that is required of us to combat HIV. We need to repose internally by providing some allocations towards HIV so that we don’t keep expecting 80 per cent of required funds from a foreign donor.
“HIV/AIDS continue to be a challenge to the future of Nigeria, over the past 15 years we have make a lot of progress in reducing prevalence to about 1.5 as at 2019 however there is evidence of rising in six states of Nigeria which Lagos and Akwa Ibom which is part of states where we are operating happen to be among.”
He advised Nigerians to know their status and stay protected, “once you know your status and want to engage in sex, use condom accurately and regularly. A couple should stay faithful to each other.”
Ivagba said that it has been established that once people complied with a non-pharmaceutical procedure like wearing of nose mask properly, social distance, hygiene among others, the chance of contacting COVID-19 virus are very minimal.
On her part, Director of Programs, Tomisin Adeoye said that the event which witnesses HIV free testing and counselling, malaria testing, distribution of bed net and COVID-19 protective materials was a two-in-one program.
She said that the program is on-going simultaneously in four states namely, Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom state and Abuja and expected to reach over 4,000 community members, “normally we use to have a huge event where we gather a lot of people together for HIV/AIDS testing and counselling, but this year due to COVID-19 what we do is to have different stand across the community in line with COVID-19 guideline.”
Appreciating the gesture, the Chairman, Alafia Community Development Association Mushin, Mr. Badru Olaide, thanks the organizer for bringing such initiative to their community.