By Sola Ogundipe
With an estimated 217,000 persons living with HIV in Lagos State, there are projections to reduce the HIV burden in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. The CEO of the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency,LSACA, Dr Oluseyi Temowo, told Good Health Weekly that although the experience of managing HIV/AIDS among adolescents has been a little challenging, the State is on track to attain the target.
Temowo who spoke at Idimu in Lagos during the camp organised for Adolescents Living with HIV, ALHIV, observed that there hasn’t been much support from partners and government in terms of the camp activities.
About 50 adolescents living with HIV and their care givers from the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Anambra, and Lagos States attended the youth mentorship and leadership programme, put together by UNICEF, in collaboration with the Lagos State government and Positive Action for Treatment Access, PATA.
“What I am saying in essence is that we would love a situation whereby as a State, we can see that the target of 2030 is achievable but the things we need to do to make it happen, we must have workable strategies in place,”he argued. In his view, “part of the campaign is to promote HIV testing and uptake for adolescents.
“It is only when you test that you can know if a person is positive or negative, so there is a serious campaign to promote testing and then uptake of service for the positive ones. Right now the whole world is talking about 90-90-90 by year 2020, and HIV free generation by 2030.”
Further, he said: “For us to achieve that, about 20 million have to be tested, the 20 million diagnosed people have to be on drugs and the 20 million on drugs have to have a suppressed viral load.
“So for Nigeria to achieve this global target there must be massive HIV testing and uptake for adolescents. The only way to do this is to go out to these adolescents, not expect them to come to you. Most importantly, when they are tested positive, they need to be provided with treatment.”
Further, he recognized the line ministries supporting LSACA specifically the Youths and Social Development Ministry, Information Ministry and the Ministry of Health.
“These all have somethings to do with our agency if HIV would have to be controlled especially among the adolescents. I think what we need to do now as an Agency is to quickly go round all these ministries on advocacy visits particularly for the adlescents especialy with what I’d seen today,” Temowo said.
In the view of the Programme Manager, PATA, Mr. Francis Umoh, “the idea to bring adolescents from different states, to promote team bonding, enables them meet with other peers from other states, share experiences, bond as a group, and get educated on sexual reproductive health issues.”
In his remark, UNICEF HIV/AIDS Specialist, Dr. Anslem Audu Otobo, said the initiative was to provide information on the adolescents in the area of counselling and testing.
“’This camp is very essential and it is to know more about them especially those of them that are living positively and see how their capacity can be built so that they in turn can go back to their facilities and communities and ensure that their support groups and peer groups is functional and working and then they get information about sexual developments.
“The camp is the first of its kind that UNICEF is supporting. We have done something similar before but this is the first time we are taking it to the higher level in which the children are able to meet with the policy makers.
“Previously it was all about capacity building but beyond that, these adolescents are now able to meet with policy makers to see how policies are put on the table to reach out to adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.”