Today, the issue of HIV/AIDS is no longer alien to many countries of the global village, due to massive awareness and education on the subject matter through efforts by interest partners such as United Nations Chidren’s Fund (UNICEF) United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and others.
Available statistics showed that, there is drastic reduction in the number of new cases. But, this reduction only seen in a particular age status; the adults. The reason for this is simple. Earlier attention of partners (both local and international) was on the adults.
However, of recent, not very recent though, surveys revealed that, while there is reduction of HIV/AIDS prevalent rate among adults, it is on the increase on the part of adolescents and young persons (AYPs)
This development worries stakeholders including UNICEF, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), Development Communications (DevComs) Network and Health4All Media Initiative to mention, but just a view.
It was against this background, that, UNICEF in collaboration with Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), embarked on massive intervention with diverse approaches, in selected local government areas in Kaduna State including Jaba, headquartered in Kwoi, which is about three hours drive from Kaduna, the State capital – aiming at increase accessibility to and use quality services to prevent and treat HIV among AYP, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
At a Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Kwoi, this correspondent met a group of pregnant, breastfeeding women and service providers, who shared their experiences.
28-year-old pregnant woman and mother of two, who claimed to trek for about one and a half hour to the facility, and spend another one hour, said, she was satisfied by the services she gets at the facility.
To 23-year-old Abigail Femi, a breastfeeding mother, she has been tested and satisfied with the services rendered to her at the facility.
She said, in her community, the issue of HIV education was like a routine thing because they discussed it frequently and people were going for test before delivery, during delivery and after delivery.
“To my understanding, I’m satisfied with the services so far rendered to me here. This programme has helped me and my three children to know our status. I also have knowledge of Family planning and I spaced my children very well.”
To 38-year-old nursing mother, Kaduno Nuhu, who just had her first child, her interest was to do the test again and again whenever she gets pregnant.
She said, “I want to do the test again and again when next I’m pregnant. I reside at a community called Dura here in Kwoi. It takes me like an hour if I’m to trek from there to this place and I do get medical attention within 30 minutes depending on the number of people on ground.”
Friendly Bilikisu Haruna is 25 years old, a first time pregnant woman who lives at Angwan Nkuchem, less than five minutes trek to the facility, said, her choice of the facility was premised on satisfactory services she do get there.
She said jokingly, “we are aware that UNICEF and KADSACA are interested in knowing our HIV status for their record and possible intervention, but we also need other things like improved access to affordable health services in all our facilities.”
Shekara Jafaru, 37, mother of four and currently carrying her fifth pregnancy, resides at Fada and trek about an hour to the facility, get medical attention within 30 minutes, said, “my passion for HIV campaign is being there for a long time. But that was ignited by this UNICEF programme. I now talk about HIV/AIDS at every opportunity within and outside my community.”
As far as Blessing Buhari, 26, mother of one, a resident of Angwan Galadima, currently pregnant was concerned, she only has to trek five minutes to the facility and as such, she has no excuse not to make use of any opportunity that can lead to her safety and that of her children.
“Issue of HIV is not what one should play with. We have been hearing about it for a long time. But now that we have the opportunity to go to the maternity and get tested give us some relief. We thank those who make that happen”, she said.
26-year-old Murna Matthew, a pregnant woman, residing at a place called Kwata and about ten minutes trek to the facility said, she lost her first baby at the point of delivery due to complications.
She said, then after, she got the information about HIV testing and counseling which she visited the facility to do and she has since became an advocate of the campaign in her community.
“They are doing well here. I know I will be cheating myself if I don’t tell you the truth. But the truth is that they are doing us well whenever we have any issue apart from that of HIV.
“They normally gather us together to talk to us about the need for the test though I can’t remember the name we tagged the programme in my community now”, she said.
18-year-old Jacob Jeb, who leads other AYP demand creators said, the task of demand creation has further helped them to ganner confidence in other aspects of their lives include education, thereby thanking the partners for the programme.
Chairman and social Mobiliser, PHC, Kwoi, Sati Ankuma, said, though mobilising pregnant women is not an easy task, but then, “we have to try to see to it that they are here for their good and the good of their family members.”
Apart from that, he continued, “we also do awareness at every opportunity. I once attended a workshop on HIV in Kafanchan and that is helping me to mobilise our women here in Kwoi.
The Ward Vocal Person, Rose Kura, hinted that, the HIV test at the PHC, Kwoi, is beyond pregnant women, breastfeeding and adolescents and young persons, all manner of people were showing interest and coming for the test.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, HIV, Jaba LG, Ayuba Yero, described the experience as interesting. “We have more demand creators in our communities. Some of them go to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and AYP to come for the test.
“But what we have discovered is that, some these pregnant women do feel shy, but, at the end of the day, they still visit the facility and get tested and know their status.
“Our major challenge is that, most of my demand creators are young persons who are younger than those pregnant women. So, if we can have additional ones, who are about 30 years and above, to create more demand, it will help us a great deal.
“We are worried about what will happen with these demand creators if UNICEF pull out because the local government is not showing any interest.”
The Chairman, Local Action Committee in AIDS, Simon Chang, said, “I have to credit the KADSACA for collaborating with UNICEF on this AYP thing. So many of them are aware of their status. They are interested in Knowing about the HIV/AIDS and how they can prevent it.
“They have a flip-chart as a guide with pictures which they have been using to teach fellow AYPs. I can confirm to you that, 90 percent of them know we preach total abstinence.
“I want to encourage partners to extend this programme from the current seven LGAs to all the remaining 16 LGs in Kaduna State. Our local demand creators are being supported with monthly stipend to take care of their transportation and feeding.
The In-charge of the facility, Ajuji A. Dattijo, who was happy with what she was doing, said, out of about five hundred women tested, only one positive case was recorded in her facility in 2018. She said, even that one has been referred to the General Hospital, Nkumdagu, Kwoi for continuity.
“We give health education as well as encouraging couples to remain loyal to their partners. We also have AYPs, whom we encourage to zip-up. But if they cannot, let them use protective commodities like condoms. We also meet with the affected people to remind them that, they can leave their life like every other person”, she added.