NPA, ALCO conduct free HIV testing for port users at Tin can

The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Abidjan- Lagos Corridor Organization (ALCO) yesterday commenced its first quarter sensitization campaign on HIV/AIDS prevention targeted towards the transport sector including truck drivers, uniformed personnel and other ports users.

Chairperson of the NPA HIV/AIDS campaign which held at the Tin Can Island Port, Dr. Comfort Datong said the sensitization campaign with the theme “Getting to Zero” was aimed at controlling the spread of the virus in the nation’s transport sector.

She said the programme, which holds quarterly since it was introduced in 2012 has recorded huge success from past campaigns as, according to her, individuals who tested positive to the virus no longer live in fear.

“Those who tested positive are now living positively. They are no longer living in fear. We have made them realize that it is not a certificate to death.

“Our aim is to make sure we don’t have new HIV cases, discrimination and that no death results from HIV and to encourage port users to know their HIV status.

“The new trend is that once we pick you as HIV positive, the next thing is to start treatment because it will help bring the viral load down and when that is done, the probability of passing on the infection will be low,” she said.

Datong said the campaign targets transport workers who she said are highly vulnerable to the disease due to the nature of their job.

“The reason for the vulnerability is that they spend lengthy periods of time away from their homes and families and experience extensive delays at the borders and ports. They therefore engage the services of commercial sex workers,” she said.

Highlights of the campaign included free HIV testing, free counseling and distribution of contraceptives to some of the port users. The exercise is expected to last for three days at Tin Can Island Port and thereafter move to PTML and Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.

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