By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS, NiBUCAA, is targeting not less than 10,000 Nigerians for free HIV testing and counselling as part of activities to mark this year’s World AIDS Day.
Disclosing this during a walk which began from Costain Bus Stop and terminated at the National Stadium, Surulere to flag off the exercise in Lagos, NiBUCAA member companies and partners harped on the importance of collective efforts to eliminate HIV&AIDS.
Some of the dignitaries at the walk include the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Nicolas Terraz, partners and residents.
Addressing participants, Executive Committee Chairman NiBUCAA, Dr. Shaibu Musa noted that the 2018 World AIDS Day was particularly significant as it marks the 30th edition of the international day set aside to raise awareness and ignite conversations on the scourge and effects of HIV&AIDS in communities and workplaces.
“As the voice of the private sector’s response to HIV&AIDS and allied health issues, NiBUCAA through the support of member companies commenced the commemoration with a conversation with the press on Monday 26th November, 2018. At the session, we intimated the media on providing HIV&AIDS Testing and Counselling (HCT) services to 10,000 Lagos residents. I am delighted to inform you that the acceptance and statistics from the designated centres have been impressive so far. The free HCT services will end on Wednesday December 5th, 2018. Residents are enjoined to use this opportunity to know their HIV status in line with the 90-90-90 benchmark of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV&AIDS.”
Musa noted that collaborative efforts and increased investments in awareness, provision of HCT services and antiretroviral therapy (ART) would reduce the country’s HIV&AIDS burden.
The theme of this year’s commemoration, Know Your Status, is a call to action. Speaking, Assistant Director, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Mr. Raheem Mohammed commended NiBUCAA for sustaining engagements with the private sector whilst calling for sustained political will to deepen the response to HIV&AIDS.
He said: “The gap in HIV diagnosis is a major limitation for our HIV programme and for the country to achieve the 90-90-90 targets. There are several opportunities and innovative technologies to expand access to HIV testing which will require a sustained political will for funding and investment.”
Mohammed explained that the launch of the HIV Trust Fund would help to bridge the gap in accessing antiretroviral therapy for Persons living with HIV, PLHIV.
On the presentation of awards to member companies, Executive Secretary, NiBUCAA, Gbenga Alabi stated the coalition would continue to innovate and seek ways to support government’s efforts in improving the wellbeing of the citizenry.
“2019 will be a proactive year for the coalition. We will expand our focus to reach out to more workplaces and business host communities. This will help to complement government’s efforts and boost the socio-economic advancement of the country.”
Among those rewarded includes Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited, Access Bank Plc and Dangote Foundation.