|By Sara Speicher, WACC Consultant|
Photo: Chief (Dr.) Y.S.O. Akande, pictured with WACC representatives Sarah Macharia and Sara Speicher and HFA volunteer Troy Li, is coordinator for the Lagos State chapter of the National Associaiton of Nigeria Traditional Medicine Practitioners. Due to his training through the WACC/HFA project, he now refers people who may have HIV to the hospital for testing and treatment. Photo credit/HFA
Hope for HIV/AIDS International (HFA), a WACC-supported project in Lagos, Nigeria, in early July held two “summits” that gave faith leaders a chance to engage with issues concerning persons living with HIV.
One summit was on Islam and AIDS and attracted about 130 participants. The second, an equivalent Christian summit, gathered about 300 people.
During the Muslim summit, WACC representatives also met with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria/CAN network from the Ifako-Ijaiye local government area to encourage them to get more involved in the project.
The faith leaders who spoke at the summits reviewed the facts about HIV and AIDS and delivered a strong message against stigmatizing those living with the disease. At the Christian summit, one bishop encouraged all to be tested for HIV and said he himself gets tested every three months. Free HIV counseling and testing was provided at both summits by the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency.
Photo: A group discussion at the Lagos Summit on Islam and AIDS. Photo credit/HFA
The local government area coordinators reported on local campaigns and initiatives concerning HIV and AIDS, including free services.
WACC representatives Sarah Macharia and Sara Speicher helped HFA develop an activity plan for the next six months. Macharia also led a session on training issues, to assist HFA’s six staff members and two volunteers in developing the second round of training on advocacy, communication and counselling.
|Photo: A women's group discussion at the Lagos Summit on Islam and AIDS. Photo credit/HFA|
WACC’s representatives visited Badagry, at the western end of Lagos State, on the border with Benin. Some of the impact of HFA’s work was already apparent, with traditional healers being involved in the program and now referring HIV patients to hospital rather than attempting to treat them on their own.
During a community sharing time, one man stood up and said that he was impressed with the WACC representatives’ passion for saving lives. He also said some in the community question whether HIV is really real, but for them to have come all this way with this passion, it must be.
WACC is supporting this project with financial assistance from UKaid.