By PRISCA SAM-DURU
In order to get to zero level HIV/AIDS infection, Journalists Against Aids (JAAIDS) has said that the development of a vaccine is key to total eradication of the virus.
In addition to the development of a vaccine, the group also noted that there is need to expand prevention option in which treatment is integrated as a prevention option, if Nigeria is serious about eradicating the virus.
Speaking during the 2012 Red Ribbon Awards tagged “Getting to Zero: A Dream or Reality for the Nigerian Aids Response” organised by JAAIDS, Mrs Florita Durueke, stressed the importance of development of a vaccine as a means of getting to zero level of infection added that the need for application of new prevention technology to stop the spread of the virus cannot be overemphasized.
According to Durueke, “The female condom is available and affordable, which is part of the new technology and we advise women to use it, also, if we must get to zero level those already infected must access treatment because it has been discovered that infected people who are on treatment are less likely to transmit the virus”.
She advised that once a person tests positive to the virus he or she should immediately go for treatment irrespective of the person’s CD4 count level.
As part of efforts to win the war against the virus, the panel noted that the media should begin to see itself as an affected community rather than as a spectator. The media was also advised to start telling Aids story in a compelling and irresistible manner which will take away the fear that prevents people from getting tested since positive reports from the media will help combat discrimination and stigmatization.
The Lagos State AIDS Control Agency which was chief host, represented by Senior Project Officer, Dr. Oladipupo Fisher disclosed that over 1.3 million people are targeted to be tested in 2013 adding that getting to zero level is a reality as the government is putting a lot in place to fight the virus.
The group further called on the government to provide adequate finance for sustainability and to strengthen the primary Health Care so as to help the Health system work.
Mrs Georgina Ahamefule an HIV positive nurse who recently won a 7 million naira suit against her former employer, Dr Molokwu, for unlawful termination of her employment and testing her without her consent, won the award for “Breaker of Silence”
Ipole Community Development Organization (ICDO) from Benue State won the “Breaker of Silence Organization”.
Olubunmi Yekini of Metro FM – an arm of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria won the radio award sponsored by New HIV Vaccine and Microbidices Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) beating Justice Kalu Amah of Solid FM, Enugu to second place. Modupe Bosede Esan won the Best Feature Reporting on HIV/AIDS (Television).
All winners in each category of the awards went home with N100, 000 cash prizes, a specially-designed Red Ribbon plaque and a certificate.