By Sola Ogundipe
AS part of activities to mark the 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, IDPD, and in line with moves by the Lagos State government to strengthen the HIV response among Lagosians, no less than 250 members of the deaf and the blind communities in the State have been empowered against HIV/AIDS through training.
Among others, they were trained on the different modes of transmission of HIV, the importance of HIV Counseling & Testing, VCT, and discouragement of HIV stigma and discrimination.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LSACA, Dr. Monsurat Adeleke who spoke during the LSACA sensitisation/training activity noted that Lagos State as a trailblazer in Nigeria in caring for needs of the people including “special people” is continuing the sensitization of the deaf and the blind communities.
Adeleke said the deaf and the blind, like other people in the State, have unprotected sex with one another, hence the essence of the forum designed to inform and educate them.
“The hearing community takes advantage of the poverty in the country and among the deaf women and girls to lure them into having unprotected sex with them which further exposes them to the risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections, STIs, including HIV/AIDS.”
She said based on the UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative which means that 90 percent of the people living with HIV must know their status by 2020; 90 percent of those that know their status must access antiretroviral therapy (ART) by 2020 and 90 percent of those accessing ART must be virally suppressed by 2020 and for total eradication of HIV in Lagos State by 2030.
“It is therefore important that these communities of the residents of Lagos State are carried along in the State HIV response for them to know the ‘Basic Fact About HIV, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Universal Safety Precautions (USP), Condom Demonstration and Usage, Referrals and Linkages as a strategy to aid prevention,” she noted.
The theme for the 2019 IDPD is “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda”.
The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to “leave no one behind” and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.