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The Lagos State Aids Control Agency (LSACA) has restated its commitment to the sustenance of successes recorded through continuous massive community HIV Testing Services (HTS), treatment, public enlightenment and sensitisation of stakeholders across the State in combating HIV/AIDS amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), LSACA, Dr. Monsurat Adeleke, made this known at a press briefing on Thursday in Lagos while speaking on the Agency’s past activities, preparation for the commemoration of the Y2020 World AIDS Day and the collaborative efforts among stakeholders on eradicating new HIV infections by 2030.

Dr. Adeleke stated that in fulfilling the mandate of the Agency to lead in HIV response within the State, LSACA has continued to strive to prevent the spread and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Lagos.

The CEO attributed the feat recorded so far, partly to the development and implementation of the National Operational Plan on HIV self-testing, noting that the plan formally introduced the use of the HIV self-testing kits, which has helped to increase the uptake of HTS, particularly among youths and to a large extent helped reduce the challenges of stigmatisation and discrimination.

She also disclosed that through the concerted efforts of the State’s HIV consortium despite the COVID-19 pandemic between January and October 2020, HTS has been provided to health facilities and communities throughout the State for 345,648 persons and 8,400 new cases have been discovered with treatment initiated.

According to her, some activities the Agency had embarked upon within the year include stocking of over 180 Pharmacies with Antiretroviral (ART) drugs for HIV clients, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, as well as HIV prevention sensitisation and training of over 200 religious leaders, 100 visually and hearing impaired persons, 200 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), 100 State Executives of the Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (NATA) with 10,000 of their members tested.

She stressed that the Agency also engaged the private sector on HIV workplace policy to reduce stigmatisation and discrimination, distribution of 1,500 sterilisation kits to registered barbers and cosmetologists after the lockdown in the State and provision of over 4,000 food palliatives to indigent HIV/AIDS clients, through concerted efforts of the Agency, Consortium, CACOVID and the Ministry of Agriculture, among others.

Disclosing that activities have been lined up to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, Dr. Adeleke stated that a Statewide HTS commenced with its flag-off last Tuesday at Ijaiye Road, Ogba, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA, which will run concurrently in the 20 LGAs of the State with an expected target audience of about 15,000 to 20,000 persons.

She also recalled that on Wednesday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in collaboration with NACA, also supported the State in Surulere LGA to carry out an extensive integrated screening for HIV services, blood pressure monitoring with the supply of drugs for an array of ailments as well as a blindness prevention programme.

Adeleke disclosed that a double-pronged symposium will take place on the grand finale, Tuesday, 1st December, to enlighten participants on COVID-19 prevention tips, urging residents to take advantage of the weeklong events to ensure their overall well-being.

The Zonal Coordinator, Southwest, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Raheem Mohammed, who represented the Director-General, NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said the reason for adopting theme “United to end HID/AIDS Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Get tested”, for this year’s celebration was not far-fetched.

According to him “Getting tested is the issue, because we all know that the HIV prevalence in the country at a point moved from 0 to 5.3 and later 3.4, but with continuous concerted efforts on testing since 2018, the country currently has a prevalence rate of 1.3 and Lagos stands at 1.4”.

On her part, Dr. Modupe Oduwole, the State Strategic Intervention Adviser, UNAIDS, noted that it will be exactly 40 years in 2021 that the HIV epidemic descended on the world and as such, all stakeholders in the fight against the virus should have grown in their capacity to promptly prevent, test and treat patients.

Responding on behalf of the Civil Society Organisations, the Public Relations Officer, Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Mr. Salisu Ahmed, who represented the State Coordinator, Mr. Patrick Akpan, congratulated and commended Lagos State for all it has achieved, expressing readiness to continue to collaborate with all stakeholders for greater achievements in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.   


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