By Cyriacus Nnaji
Red-Ribbon Coalition, a National advocacy group on HIV/AIDS, targeting multiple communities across eight high-risk states in Nigeria kicked off her 2018 campaign on 30th of November as part of the World AIDS Day celebration.
The group made the disclosure at Development Communications Network (Devcoms) office in Lagos on Friday.
Theme “Know Your Status”, Red-Ribbon said HIV infection has spread over the last 32 years in Africa since it was first discovered and has continued to have a great impact on health, welfare, and employment, affecting all social and ethnic groups throughout the world.
The advocacy campaign is organized by the Red-Ribbon Coalition, Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), Society for Family Health (SFH), Development Communications Network and convened by Coca-Cola Nigeria.
Speaking separately to The AUTHORITY, Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Youth Empowerment Foundation and Funke Adewoyin, representing Society For Family Health, the group said an estimated 3, 229,757 people living with HIV in Nigeria and about 220,393 new HIV infections occurred in 2013 and 210,031 died from AIDS-related cases.
Iwalola Akin-Jimoh, Youth Empowerment Foundation said “HIV prevalence among adults in Nigeria is relatively low (3.2%), yet Nigeria is an enormous country where HIV infection remains an issue that demands a systematic and highly tailored intervention.”
Inaugurated in 2015, the past projects, Red-Ribbon, has brought together leading stars in Nigeria’s football, music, comedy, and movie industry to work together as advocates for the fight against HIV.
The World AIDS Day is a day globally set aside to provide an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
The number of people estimated to be receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) was 747,382 with 3.0 million adult populations estimated to be living with the disease as of 2014. Albeit due to its population size, Nigeria has the second largest HIV disease burden in the world, with 3.2 million people living with HIV, after South Africa which has 6.8 million burden of the disease though prevalence is stable at 3.4% (National HIV/AIDS Reproductive health survey 2012 PLUS II)
According to Funke Adewoyin “This year’s advocacy campaign targets multiple communities across Eight high-risk States in Nigeria through a combination of activities which includes media awareness, voluntary counselling and testing, public education and awareness sessions and entertainment using drama and football.
“The target for this year is to reach over thirty thousand people across 8 sites (Lagos, Oyo, FCT Abuja, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Gombe, and Kano). Activities to commemorate the World Aids Day campaign includes a press conference while flag off will be at Aboki Estate Ajah on Saturday, 1st of December 2018, with Society for Health (SFH) deploying counsellor testers to conduct HIV counselling and testing,” Adewoyin said.
Red-Ribbon said it has put together a 2-week long voluntary counselling and testing session which began on Friday, 30 November, 2018 and ends on Saturday, 15th December 2018.
Other activities lined up for the event include a Novelty Match to close out the events.