By Smith Nwokocha of Port Harcourt Wakawaka Blog in an interview with the Communication Liaison officer of IHVN on World AIDS Day!
Questions 1. What is your name, can we meet you?
Wakdet Lawrence, Senior Programme Officer and Communication Liaison Officer, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Rivers State.
Questions 2. What is the theme for this year World AIDS Day?
END INEQUALITIES, END AIDS through sustainable financing
Questions 3. Is there a relationship between Family Planning and HIV/AIDS?ot directly. HIV/AIDS is a disease while FP or child spacing services are a health option provided for men and women of reproductive age to curb pregnancy or spread of disease. Nothing stops a PLHIV from using FP provided the type of FP offered, especially hormonal ones, do not interact or interfere with their anti-retroviral treatment.
Not directly. HIV/AIDS is a disease while FP or child spacing services are a health option provided for men and women of reproductive age to curb pregnancy or spread of disease. Nothing stops a PLHIV from using FP provided the type of FP offered, especially hormonal ones, do not interact or interfere with their anti-retroviral treatment.
Questions 4. Are there existing healthy preventive measures against HIV/AIDS and how can young people plug in?
Abstinence remains the best option or delayed sexual debut for young people. But for those already sexually active, it is recommended to use the ABC. A for Abstinence. B for Behaviour Change. C for consistent and correct use of condoms. The emphasis is on correct and consistent use which enables people hold the tip of the rubber (allows for seminal collection) while rolling on the rubber on an erect penis.
Questions 5. The Institute of Virology, The Challenge Initiative, CHAI, Ministry of Health, UNFPA, UNICEF among others, what Practical steps has these Institutions made in respect of preventing HIV/AIDS for the good of the society?
IHVN has been in the forefront of HIV prevention, care and treatment for over 15 years. We provide testing services, care and support for adults, paediatirc as well as adolescents and vulnerable children. We conduct a lot of sensitization on radio, community outreaches like during the World AIDS Day and enable mothers attending ante-natal care to access pre and postnatal services that prevents the transmission of the virus to a health unborn child. That is the goal for a HIV-free generation: to place infected pregnant mothers on treatment and the baby on prophylaxis for 6 weeks after delivery. That way, the baby doesn’t get vertical transmission for the virus from mother to child.
Again, IHVN with the support of the Government of Nigeria, Rivers State Government and our foreign partners or donors, we place all infected clients on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, HAART to achieve viral suppression and hence, stop the transmission of the virus to sexual partners. This is called the U=U which stands for Undetectable equals Untransmissible.
Questions 6. Final question, how does the rural dwellers benefit from all of these, because they seems to be less informed, owing to a lot of factors to access opportunities?
You know HIV and poverty have a lot of association, even though the virus doesn’t respect age, class, tribe or religion. Currently, community outreaches are going on daily in all nooks and crannies of Rivers State and other States we are providing services. We collaborate with the State Ministry of Health and the Primary Health Care Management Board in providing facility-based testing and treatment. So, most General Hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres provide testing and treatment which we provide.
We have indigenous staff working in the host communities who are able to speak the local dialect and are able to provide advocacy to community gatekeepers such as youth leaders or traditional leaders. That is usually the case before we gain access to the host communities, whether inland or in riverine or water-locked areas where they reside. In fact, we have combed almost every where in Rivers, even Bonny Islands where our presence is felt. We seem to be getting to saturation point as even the positive numbers seem to be reducing. It’s not yet uhuru but it seems we are getting to the level of epidemic control of the virus.