Counseling to reach 18,000 Nigerians for free HIV counseling, testing

As part of activities to mark the 2016 World AIDS Day, the Nigerian Red Ribbon Coalition, a strategic public-private sector alliance is to provide free HIV Testing Services (HTS) for 18,000 Nigerians as well as reach over 5 million people with correct HIV/AIDS information.

Members of the Coalition, convened by Coca-Cola Nigeria includes; Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI), Society for Family Health (SFH)

The Coalition which is in its second year, is targeting multiple communities across 11 states in Nigeria including Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Edo, Enugu, FCT Abuja, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, and Oyo.

The campaign will also harness the power of celebrity advocacy to create awareness on major public health issues as well as organized fundraising for children orphaned by the disease.

At a Media Parley/Symposium in Lagos, the Coalition’s convener, Emeka Mba has said that this year, we are building on the successes made at the inaugural edition last year by mobilizing and sensitizing people to know their status with the provision of free HIV testing services in a friendly environment.

Mba who is also the Community Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola, explained that the campaign will be tackling issues of stigmatization, discrimination and fear of getting tested, promoting social inclusion and adequate care for People Living with HIV/AIDS.

On her part, YEF’s Executive Director, Mrs. Iwalola Akin-Jimoh has noted that apart from the direct beneficiaries of HIV Testing Services, there were also plans to reach about 5 million people with up-to-date HIV/AIDS information via various platforms, while also covering the area of Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission, PMTCT.

Speaking, YEDI’s Executive Director, Anu Ishola also noted that the pan-Nigeria coalition will leverage each party’s strength and network and also celebrity advocacy which according to her are a better way of pushing back the scourge.

She added that the activities lined up will provide an environment conducive to a large turnout of young people to access free HIV testing services while being treated alongside music, light refreshment and other fun activities.

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