The Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) has organised a sensitisation programme on Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) and reproductive health for 100 hearing and visually impaired people.
Speaking at the event held on Wednesday at Alausa, Ikeja, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), LSACA, Dr. Monsurat Adeleke, said the primary objective of the programme was to sensitise the people on HIV/AIDS prevention, risk reduction, stigmatisation, discrimination, mother-to-child transmission, referral and linkages for HIV positive pregnant women as well as increased demand for the creation of HIV testing services within the community.
Adeleke said that poor knowledge of HIV prevention among members of the hearing and visually-impaired community had invariably increased risk-taking behaviours, coupled with neglect of the community over the years on HIV prevention interventions, resulted in the disabled community being more susceptible to HIV infection.
“The HIV virus spreads fast among people with low-risk perception, because of their high-risk behaviours. The hearing and visually impaired community fall within this class. Thus, the need to improve their knowledge on HIV prevention, care and treatment”, she noted.
The CEO emphasised that, according to the Joint United Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the AIDS epidemic control cannot be attained without addressing the HIV/AIDS social determinants, which include the social-economic environment.
Adeleke further disclosed that the programme was initiated in 2018, consequent upon a 2011 HIV mode of transmission studies, noting that the exercise revealed that the HIV Incidence rate is highest in the low-risk heterosexual community with 55.3%, followed by the casual heterosexual community by 13.4%.
She maintained that over 600 hearing and visually impaired community members have been trained in the last three years on prevention of HIV and mother-to-child transmission linkage for HIV positive pregnant women.
While commending the attentiveness and enthusiasm of the participants drawn from the 20 Local Government and 37 Local Council Development Areas of the State, Adeleke implored them to cascade the knowledge acquired at the event to other members of their communities, imploring them to ensure that no one takes undue advantage.
In his remarks, Mr. Kehinde Akewusola, a Facilitator and Director, Deaf Access Enterprises, asserted that since the LSACA began its sensitisation programme in 2018, there has been remarkable improvement in the awareness level within the hearing-impaired community.
He stated that he would continue to impart knowledge about the infection on members of the community wherever he finds himself.
In the same vein, Mr. Dumbiri Frank, a participant at the programme, appreciated the State government for what he described as a timely intervention.
He said the presentation of some of the various HIV Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the hearing and visually impaired participants in Braille would help create better awareness in the blind community and assist them in differentiating between the myths and facts associated with the infections.