Hundreds of women living with HIV/AIDS, at the weekend, converged in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital to inaugurate an association and raise funds to checkmate the spread of the killer disease in the state and environs.
The ceremony, which took place at the Ogun State Action Committee on AIDS (OSACA) secretariat at Kemta, Idi-Aba, was attended by women from all parts of the state. The lively group of women, who were dressed in uniform Ankara, said there was no point in hiding their status and expressed determination to contribute positively towards fighting the menace and stigmatization associated with the disease. The state coordinator of the body, Olubunmi Florence Lawal said, the mission of the group is to create a society where HIV and AIDS positive women and children are empowered to live a healthy and fulfilled live.
Easing access to care
“Our goal is to promote and facilitate gender equity and access to comprehensive care and support by the involvement of HIV-positive women and children in decision-making and programme implementation, through advocacy and capacity building,” she said. Mrs Lawal, who is also living with AIDS, said the group will work with the state government, traditional rulers, corporate bodies and individuals. She also faulted the notion that all women living with HIV/AIDS are wayward. “But destiny cannot be changed; my fellow Nigerians if you think it cannot be you, think twice. It can be anybody; remember HIV and AIDS is real,” she said.
Another member, Bukola Matti, who has been living with the disease since 2002, said the inauguration was a good initiative, adding that, “We shall be relevant at the National level..” Ms Matti, a successful business woman resident in Ijebu-Ode, said she is happy that the programme was a success. “It is a good initiative and I am happy that it is a success,” she said. “The inauguration is important, so that we shall be relevant at the national level. We need suitable and well equipped office whereby we can attend to our referred patients for counselling and monitoring and hold our meetings. We need a vehicle for visiting and providing proper attention to our people from rural areas, for monitoring and for use in case of emergency.”
She also said the group would raise funds to swell its account for victims who could not afford first aid prescription and to cater for abandoned children in the state’s various hospitals. “Above all, our key focus is on the promotion of behavioural change and prevention of the new HIV infection in line with Nigeria National HIV and AIDS strategic framework 2010-2015,” she said.
Adetutu Shoniki, an official of the Nursing Service of the Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, advised the women to ensure proper use of drugs and nutrition, stressing also the importance of prevention of other infections through practice of safety precautions. She also counselled the patients to be equally cautious of positive healthy living, as well as regular attendance at clinic. “They should adhere strictly to adequate use of drugs,nutrition, prevention of other infections,” she said.