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SERAC promotes HIV & AIDS awareness at the grassroots

By Olayinka LATONA
Despite the extent  of awareness and programmes organised by government and various non-governmental bodies, it is shocking  that some Nigerians especially those living in slums areas of the country are still  ignorant about issues of HIV & AIDS.

Bukola Adeleke, 17, a mother of one who lives in Kadara area of Oyingbo in Ebute-Metta, Lagos has  heard about AIDS but has never attend any seminar or campaign on the issue. Bukola who never knew the father of her son said  neighbors always discouraged her whenever she comes up with the issue of HIV & AIDS adding that her friends told her that HIV is only meant for the rich people “Aisan Olowo” in Yoruba.

However, in order to enlighten and educate people like Bukola, Social And Econimic Rights Action Center (SERAC), an NGO, held a day workshop for slum dwellers at The Apostolic Primary School, Ebute -Metta East Lagos.

SERAC marked the 2010 World AIDS Day at “Ebute” as popularly called and known to people in Oyingbo.  After the lecture entitled “Mode of Transmission, Preventive Measure and Taking Care of People Living Wwith HIV” the response of the people indicated they had very low level of  understanding about the issues.

Some of the women were actually shocked to hear that the female condom is in Nigeria.

Odunaike Babatope, a father of five, recounted that he and his colleagues always believed HIV was as a result of too much gonorrhoea in the body therefore they only guarded against gonorrhoea by taking herbal concoctions. He confessed that he now knew better.

Mustapha Bakare who said he has two wives and  several concubines did did not believe in the use of condom as a guard against HIV. He actually knew nothing about HIV before and just hearing it for the first time in detail.

Ohaeri Victoria, Programme Coordinator, SERAC  sought for improved partnership between government and civil society in order to effectively  combat AIDS in the rural areas and also for such slum dwellers to make informed decisions about their sexuality and productive well being .

Victoria said although Nigeria has witnessed significant progress with its various national response to AIDS through government efforts and non-governmental organisations.

She insisted there should be a  greater collaboration between the government and the Civil society as there is still much work to be done to achieve universal access and improve on the protection of the rights of Nigerians especially those living in the remote areas.

She said majority of rural dwellers did not have access to information on HIV/AIDS as they lack the basic social amenities like good roads, primary health care, electricity amongst others.

Also, Dr. Cara Cookey in her lecture noted that for Nigeria to attain the 2015 target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for  universal access to healthcare, government had to make available good health care facility to the people living in the remote areas and also increase awareness on the mode of transmission of HIV adding that the awareness among at the grassroots was  very low. She said a lot remains to be done for people living in rural areas.

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