The 2016 World AIDS Day (1st December) will remain a memorable day for Namu Community, in Plateau state as Caritas Nigeria in collaboration with St. Virgilius Catholic Hospital, Namu, marked it in a very unique and impactful way.
It was double fortune as the date coincided with a technical assistance visit from Caritas Nigeria project team to St. Virgillus Namu, one of her key partner facilities in Plateau state. And in line with this year’s World AIDS Day theme: ‘Hands up for HIV prevention’, it was truly ‘Hands Up’ affair all across Namu town.
The celebration kicked off with visiting Caritas Nigeria team, dressed in their resplendent red, blue and white branded T-shirts joining with staff of the hospital to have an exciting photo session where they all held their hands up to display various HIV prevention messages boldly written on their palms. Among the messages were ‘Sex Education’, ‘Equal Access’, Gender Equality,’ ‘Social Protection’, ‘Zero discrimination’ etc.
After the photo session, both teams launched a mini awareness campaign to nearby communities around the hospital. The focus was on HIV/AIDS prevention, and testing services available at the hospital. Caritas Nigeria’s Community services expert, Mr. Adelaja went further to conduct interviews with some of the locals to sample their opinions on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, its prevention and particularly the problem of discrimination. The initial skepticism and curiosity that greeted him later turned into open acceptance and participation when they understood what the exercise was about and they readily subjected themselves to be interviewed. Majority of those interviewed had some knowledge of HIV/AIDS and could site at least one method of preventing transmission. A few beautiful placards were designed with similar messages and were carried around by the staff.
St. Virgilius Namu is a missionary hospital run by the Catholic Church in Nigeria. The facility is administered by Rev. Sr. Martin de Porres, who with her team of dedicated and committed staff offer among other services, HIV/AIDS comprehensive care and treatment services to over 700 clients. The hospital is currently the only facility offering such services to the numerous communities around the area. Over the years, the number of clients placed on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) has increased steadily due to the determination of staff of the hospital to go the extra mile in their bid to get more HIV positive clients from among the communities placed on ARVs.
Overall, it was a very uplifting experience for the team as the efforts impacted positively on the community, especially those living with HIV/AIDS.
Report and pictures courtesy of Lawrencia Agur, Pharmacy and Logistics Advisor, Caritas Nigeria