Since 1986 when the first case of a person living with AIDS was reported in Nigeria, public perception about the disorder has gradually strengthened.
Various medical experts and government parastatals have ceaselessly made relentless effort to subdue the spread of HIV – the causative virus of AIDS.
In this area, the Lagos State Government leads. Lagos was first to set up a Foundation on HIV/AIDS and the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) implements one of the most vibrant HIV/AIDS control and prevention programme initiatives in Nigeria.
No one knows this better than Dr. F.A Dabiri, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Babatunde Fashola,Â onÂ HIV and AIDS.Dabiri who is also Chief Executive Officer, LSACA spoke to Kola Folorunsho. Excerpts:
On HIV/AIDS control & prevention
LSACA was first to become an autonomous agency of government. Directly, we are under the government and as such, we work together with development partners, public and private sectors.
ThereÂ is no barrier for the activities we do.Â Most of them are preventive activities. We work with public hospitals etc.
What we are doing is in line with what Lagos State Governor is doing. Last year, for example, we took our campaign to the barbers and hairdressers .
His Excellency gave out 1,000 sterilising kits to them and he made them realise that they are using sharp objects which has over the years opened up the peopleÂ to contracting infectious diseases.
When you barb your hair, you at times get bruises from barbers.Â His Excellency, livingÂ by example, advised the barbers to always use the sterilising kits when they barb. He told them further that if the clippers which the barbers are using are not their own, they should not use them.
Status of LSACA
LSACA is the Lagos State chapter of the National AgencyÂ for the Control of AIDS (NACA) which is directly under the presidency while LSACA is directly under the Lagos State government.
We have had campaigns for barbers, automobile technicians and NAWOCA courtesy of the Lagos State First Lady. On this,Â we have gone to the traditional rulers and the State House of Assembly.
A law signed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu brought about women emancipation in Lagos State. I stand to be corrected, this giant step has not even been implemented in Abuja. We have launched two divisions of National Women Coalition on AIDSÂ (NAWOCA) in Ikorodu and Badagry.Â Epe, Lagos Island and Ikeja are in the pipeline.Â This is one of the aims and means by which we can take campaign against HIV and AIDS to the grassroots.
On statistics of PLWA in Lagos State.
Itâ€™s an on-going thing. It used to be 4.4 million, it isÂ now 5.1 million. Really, it is nothing to be frightened about. What is happening in Lagos State is that more people are staying alive because our programmes are successful.
Young ones especially should avoid sex without condom. The married should learn to be faithful to their partners.
Sex workers and men who have sex with other men should use condoms constantly. We are getting more variants of the virus. However, the virus is very easy to kill if it is discovered very early.
On role of NGOs
We are in collaboration with NGOs and organisationsÂ through the NIBUCCA in eradicating the spread of the virus in Lagos State.
People need to get close to the facilities provided by theÂ State government.
TheÂ State Ministry of Justice is also there to cater for cases of discrimination. I advise all Nigerians to go for the HIV screening test.
There is nothing to fear. It is when you know your status that youâ€™ll know thes next line of action.