By Lolo Ayaba
Deputy Director Gender Human right and care services, National Agency Control for AIDS (NACA), Yinka Falola-Anoemuah has revealed that more than half of people living with HIV are women.
Falola-Anoemuah, made the revelation at the graduation ceremony and presentation of certificate to AIDS vulnerable and indigent women including women and girls living with and affected by HIV/AIDS who benefited from an empowerment and skill acquisition program organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in partnership with Association of Women living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN).
According to her, about 1.9% of the people positive with HIV then we have about 1.9millon people living with HIV. More than half of people living with HIV are women.
The essence of this empowerment is to add value to the lives our of women and girls, the indigents, vulnerable living with HIV or affected by HIV. This is to support the response in Lagos state.
Explaining further, Falola-Anoemuah said that “we know part of the issue women faced by indigent women is basically because they cannot provide for themselves. They don’t have source of livelihood so they engage in risky behaviour that can predisposed them to contracting HIV. We know with this support some of them will start having economic power and apart from that livelihood opportunities are given them by the training they just had a starter pack to help them to be able to become economic viable and also will gave them skills on how they will deal with issue on gender based violence to provide for themselves and children.”
According to Dr. Sani Aliyu, acting Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), “the essence of this empowerment is to transform the lives of young girls that are highly vulnerable to HIV because of their dependence on men and inability to say No and take a firm decision when it comes to this sexual behaviour. But when they are empowered, they become independent and this helps them take firm decision”.
“The empowerment will go along way because globally there are five pillars of prevention that are recognised. And one of those pillars are targeting adolescent girls and young women with effective intervention and such include economic empowerment. Also support groups where they can discuss their sexual behaviour and risk they take. This is an intervention which has focused more on economic empowerment.”
The Director General added that intervention should not be limited to victims and people living with HIV, so partners are collaborating with a lot of organization, civil society all over the country to reach out to more young people.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony and presentation of certificate to beneficiaries at the event Senator Dipo Odujirin, Chairman of Tosin Anibaba Memorial (TAM) Fund in Lagos, noted that more women involved in HIV infection. This is why focused attention needs to be given more in that direction. I am happy these exercise is directed to enable the women and girls to be self efficient economically so that they won’t be desperate and get unsafe just because of economic situation. Currently NACA is doing a lot to ensure that there is information and assisting people to get the necessary economical and medical help so that it doesn’t get to AIDS.
Encouraging the women, Senator Odujirin said “That no rich man starts at the top. He starts at the base and grow. Likewise a celebrated person didn’t start at there too. A thousand mile journey begins with the first feet forward, by the time they keep working, saving back, no spending on Aso ebi, they will be able to grow their business and trade, and so I expect to see more.”
The highlight of the event which was organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in partnership with Association of Women living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN), and Tosin Anibaba Memorial (TAM) Fund, was the presentation of certificates and starters pack to over fifty (50) HIV/AIDS vulnerable and indigent women including women and girls living with and affected by HIV/AIDS who were trained in different skills.