HIV/AIDS: NGO wants govts, others involved in advocacy to youths

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By Augusta Uchediunor
Lagos, Sept. 3, 2020 An NGO, New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS), says there is need for governments and capacity building organisations to increase HIV/AIDS advocacy by adopting the LeNNiB champions training programme.

According to the organisation, its Leaving No Nigerian Behind (LeNNiB) project where people are trained on the requisite sikills for advocacy, will help in making youths and other vulnerable populations get more understanding of HIV/AIDS, thereby help in reducing the disease.

Ms Florita Dureke, Executive Director , NHVMAS , said during the programme on Thursday in Lagos, that the LeNNiB programme was initiated to make sure that Nigerians have access to proven HIV prevention tools such as the Pre-Exposure Profilaxes (PrEP).

“ PrEP is an oral Antiretroviral drug taken daily by HIV negative individuals who are at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.

“The LeNNiB training programme was first organised by NHVMAS in 2017 to train 10 advocates, journalists and social media influencers in capacity building and advocacy on biometrical HIV prevention research and support.

“LeNNiB has trained 36 young advocates who develop individual community projects implemented at no cost and some of them now run their organisations, while others are engaged in research institutions.

“It is suggested that the LeNNiB programme be adopted at community levels, primary health centers and other institutions as well as be integrated into the design of their programmes.

“The LeNNiB training includes mandatory skills acquisition such as effective public interaction and writing as each trainee is expected to work directly with people and write articles weekly, which was properly vetted,” she said.

Durueke, however, said the PrEP was for infected mothers who might transmit to child, people in serodiscordant relationship, that is, a marriage where one partner was HIV positive and also sex workers.

Earlier, the programme graduated 8 LeNNiB champions in the 2020 set of the LeNNiB champions who had undergone the mentorship programme.

One of the participants, Adeshina Oluwanifemi, said that training had broadened his knowledge about HIV, particularly on how to make advocacy to key populations, that is, those that were more vulnerable to getting HIV.

“’The vulnerable such as the Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) Female Sex Workers (FSW) and People Who Inject Drugs (PWID).

‘“My plan after the programme is to use what I have learnt to further give back to the society, especially the MSM community, the adolescent and the pregnant women,’’ Adeshina said.

Ms Blessing Adewunmi, another graduate of LeNNiB, said that she learnt a lot from the training through the research, programming and implementation methods she was exposed to.

She added that she was able to meet a lot of people because she worked with people between the ages of 15-24 years teaching them about the usage of PrEP in their community and when it was favourable.

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