By Chioma Obinna
RISK groups in hard-to- reach areas in Nigeria need to have access to HIV& AIDS messages, so that the gains of the 2007 National HIV Reproductive Health Survey, which show appreciable reduction in prevalence may be consolidated.
This was the message during a five-day free testing and counseling programme organised by the Population Council in collaboration with the Centre for the Right To Health (CRH) for members of Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Isolo Branch as part of activities to mark this yearâ€™s World AIDS Day.
Programme Officer, Population Council, Mr. Olusegun Sangowawa called for concerted efforts to reach to these high risk group in the communities.
â€œWhile we think that we are getting the numbers down, there are new infections coming up every other day from those difficult high- risk- people we are not reaching out to.â€ He said Federal Government shouldÂ create an enabling environment for partners in the fight against HIV & AIDS with a view to reaching out to those most at risk.
SangowawaÂ opined that HIV screening should become routine while everyoneÂ should have access to HIV information and services. Programme Manager of CRH, Mrs. Christy Ekerete-UdofiaÂ called for inclusion of HIV lectures as part of school curriculum from nursery toÂ tertiary institution. She said the school is the right place toÂ inculcate HIV lecture as part of school curriculum.
Tagged â€œMenâ€™s Networkâ€, the programme is to enable 5,000 okada riders get screened for HIV and also to know the proper use of condoms and other necessary information.
Chairman, Isolo Branch of MOALS, Comrade Sikiru acknowledged that the programme had enlightened them on the risks involved in casual sex.
CRH also took its HIV Awareness train to Shomolu area of Lagos with a Road Show/Awareness Campaign in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Society for Family Health (SFH). This yearâ€™s theme is â€œUniversal Access to Treatment and Human Rightsâ€.