By Rebecca Ejifoma
The Lagos State Government in partnership with the National Agency of the Control of AIDS (NACA) has empowered 180 vulnerable indigents, and Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in Lagos communities with various economic skills.
The beneficiaries were trained for three days on sewing, bricklaying, painting, baking, cooking, and arts among others.
The state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who described the skills as wealth creation, noted that “these are skills that can take us out of poverty. As you return, start practising a trade.
“Now that you are empowered, it will keep you off the streets, and help you contribute to the productivity of the economy of the nation”.
While stating his passion for the youth, the governor, represented by the CEO Lagos State Control AIDS Agency, Monsurat Adeleke, said: “he is passionate about the youth and he continues to target and roll out interview just to empower the youth at any opportunity he gets. We are gearing towards the elimination of new infections of HIV in 2030”.
“Just last week”, she reminisced, “we collaborated with the ministry of wealth creation; they were marking the world Artisans Day.
“ELSACA has been collaborating with them since last year. The governor procured about 1500 sterilising kits just to target the hairdressers and barbers. We know that the youth constitute about 43 per cent of our population and they have the highest prevalence.”
For the DG of NACA, Gambo Aliu, this initiative is simultaneously holding in five pilot states: Adamawa, Enugu, Jigawa, and Nasarawa in this intervention on empowerment for HIV/AIDS prevention.
He added: “Hopefully this year, we will expand to other states, but I’m happy to say this empowerment has trained youths that are between ages 18 to 35 with skills that are ready to – get out and get other jobs.”
Noting that the empowerment scheme has trained 900 people so far in the last two weeks, Aliu said the hope is that this training would pave way of empowering youth and empowering people that are at risk of HIV or are vulnerable.
“These are the age group – 18 to 35. Empowering them will take them away from HIV, because we know poverty is one thing that brings people closer to HIV. Insecurity is also one thing that brings people closer to HIV,” he maintained.
Sadly, HIV/AIDS continues to be a disease of global interest with the global target to end AIDS by 2030 and Nigeria has achieved significant strides in the fight against the disease.
The national prevalence which was previously 3.4 per cent by the National HIV and AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey 2012 (NARHS Plus II) is now reportedly 1.5 per cent among adult HIV with a projected estimate of 1.9million people living with HIV.
This is according to the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS 2018), a national household-based survey that assessed the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other related health indicators in 2018.
With this, Aliu beckoned on other young Nigerians to come out and know their HIV status, urging them to shun stigmatisation.