Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has advocated for a renewed commitment to forge alliances that will help ongoing efforts to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
She made the call at an event to mark the 2019 World AIDS Day at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja on Thursday.
According to her, “it is time to factor all relevant communities including the HIV support groups and adolescent and youth communities into our strategies for preventing the spread of HIV.”
She noted the worrisome trend of a growing number of young persons with new infections, especially girls; with the costly implication of increased risk of having new babies born HIV-positive.
This trend, she noted, will lead to higher chances of spreading the disease and invariably more deaths, stressing that “our younger generation, therefore, need to be aware and equipped with skills to access HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.”
Mrs. Buhari commended the essay competition organized for adolescents, saying that “this adds up to our collective efforts to leave no one behind as we work towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”
She congratulated the winners and advised that the information they received from the event comes to their advantage.
Mrs. Buhari commended the Embassy of China for supporting the event, saying the commitment was a follow up on the promise by the First Lady of China to work with African countries to implement a three-year health promotion and HIV prevention advocacy programme for adolescents, starting in 2019.
The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu said that the 2019 event was focusing on the role of communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the spotlight has fallen on Nigerian youths.
He said that young people would always explore their sexuality but cautioned that they needed to be aware of the implications and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
He said that the HIV response is running its last mile in controlling the disease in Nigeria and cautioned that results must be visible.
The event witnessed an experience sharing session by people living with HIV/AIDS and a panel discussion, as well as the presentation of prizes to the top five winners by the First Lady.