Africare, ExxonMobil, NBA sensitise Ruga community on HIV/AIDS

In commemoration of the 2019 World AIDS Day, with the theme “Communities makes the difference”, Africare Nigeria, through its Power Forward Project hosted an outreach at Ruga, a Shanti community in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to raise awareness and provide information on the impact of the disease.

The Power Forward project is in partnership between three organisations ExxonMobil, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Africare.

In a statement by the Senior Programme Support Manager, Africare, Feyishike Adekeye, explained that the essence of the awareness campaign is to sensitise hundreds of the community dwellers on how they can prevent HIV/AIDS, stop the stigmatisation and sensitise people living with the diseases on how they can live positively.

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Adekeye noted that the theme of 2019 celebration is the reason the awareness was taken to the Ruga community. This, according to her is because of the important role that communities played and will continue to play in the HIV/AIDS response.

She informed that Ruga community which hosts residents from neighbouring States close to the FCT was chosen because it has a high number of youths within the reproductive age and who participates in sex work.

“The community residents live in batcha houses and conduct menial jobs to earn a living. Also, a large number of people residing in that location engage in sex work and unhealthy sexual lifestyles that expose them to the disease”, she said.

She added, “we are out to reach the community members with HIV/AIDS messaging on prevention strategies, we have different categories of persons in the communities, the brothel-based sex workers, the injectable drug users, the out-of-school youths and the general community as a whole”.

A beneficiary of the programme, Queen Joseph said that the programme has broadened her knowledge on how to prevent HIV/AIDS and the different ways the disease can be contacted.

She said, “I have learnt three new things, in the drama that was presented, I understand that it’s good to use protection during sexual intercourse. I also learnt that HIV/AIDS is not only spread through sexual intercourse but can be spread through sharing of sharp objects and blood transfusion.

She assured that she will pass on the knowledge she has gained with her friends.

Joseph further revealed that the Ruga community has overtime benefited from Africare health campaigns. According to her, “This is not the first time Africare will come to this community, they have been here three times. In their Malaria outreaches, malaria drugs and bed nets were distributed and over 700 people benefited.

Another beneficiary, Mnenege Martins also said he has gained more knowledge around HIV/AIDS prevention and how to show love to people living with the virus rather than stigmatising.

“Today, I am well educated on how I can prevent the spread of HIV”, he said.

December 1 is recognised internationally by the World Health Organisation as World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Over 3,000 condoms and 50 Long Lasting Insecticides Nets were distributed at the commemoration activity as participants were engaged in fun games, musical and basketball games at the event.