Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari has advocated for a renewed commitment to forge alliances that will help ongoing efforts to end HIV. She made the call at an event to mark the 2019 World AIDS Day at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja on Thursday 28th November, 2019.
Mrs. Buhari noted that “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.
“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 competitions organized for adolescents, saying “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.
Earlier in the programme, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu said 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 young people will be young people and they will explore their sexuality. He however cautioned that they need to be aware of the implications and take proactive steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from this epidemic.
He said that the HIV response is running its last mile in controlling the HIV epidemic 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. Highlight of the event was the presentation of prizes to the top five winners by the First Lady.