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To reduce pediatric HIV, stigma, and discrimination, Caritas Nigeria, supported by Caritas Internationalis, PEPFAR, and UNAIDS, is collaborating with religious leaders in Nigerian communities to identify children living with HIV and place them on antiretroviral therapy (ART) under the GRAIL project. GRAIL, an...

acronym for Galvanizing Religious Leaders for Accelerated Identification and Linkage to Pediatric ART, seeks to mitigate new HIV infections in children by engaging faith leaders to sensitize their congregations on HIV, with the ultimate goal of upscaling HIV testing and treatment among children. Since 2018, Caritas Nigeria has carried out several advocacies, workshops and training that stir religious leaders to faith platforms to drive case identification among children living with HIV.

A core part of the GRAIL project's strategy is HIV screening in communities across Delta, Enugu and Imo regions and the FCT, achieved in partnership with religious leaders. In the previous quarter, Caritas Nigeria conducted training for clergymen and women on their role in epidemic control, organized medical outreaches in selected parishes in the regions, and created awareness of the epidemic and the need to end HIV stigma and discrimination. At the health outreaches, Caritas Nigeria teams across the states provided HIV testing services and screening for tuberculosis, COVID-19, blood pressure, blood sugar level, pulse rate, and body temperature to worshipping communities. While identified positives were immediately counselled and treatment commenced, clients diagnosed with other ailments were administered appropriate medications.

For its role in pediatric HIV management, the strategy, successes and lessons of the GRAIL project’s strategy, successes and lessons were analysed at the Interfaith Pre-conference AIDS 2022 in Montreal, Canada, which had Caritas Nigeria contingent in attendance. The event highlighted Caritas Nigeria’s efforts in accelerating pediatric HIV case-finding, treatment and support for index cases since 2018, and outcomes presented included improved HIV testing services, increased case-finding, prompt linkage of positives to life-saving treatment, and strengthened support groups and parish committees on AIDS.

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