The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has again flagged off its sensitization campaign on prevention of HIV/AIDS among port users and workers in the maritime sector.
The week-long exercise which is being organised in collaboration with the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor (ALCO) commenced on Monday at the Tin Can Island Port with truck drivers, uniform personnel and artisans among others coming in for free testing.
Speaking with newsmen yesterday, Chairperson of the NPA/ALCO project, Dr. Comfort Datong said the campaign which began since 2012 within the ECOWAS sub region has recorded a lot of successes.
According to her, because of the increase in level of awareness, the rate of new positive cases of the HIV virus among port users within the trade corridor has reduced.
“When we started, we were testing only1000 persons but now we are testing 1,500. But from our graph, the number of people you pick positive has gone down. So that shows that the awareness has gone round to an extent. What that means is that people are more cautious by using condoms. There is less number of people getting infected,” she said.
She added that apart from the HIV free screening, the sensitization workshop is also aimed at screening and providing free treatment with people infected with Hepatitis B.
Speaking on the campaign exercise tagged ‘Access Equity Rights Now, Datong said it is a call to make sure that those who have not had access to testing and treatment have the opportunity.
She said “It is a call to pushing on especially to those who have nobody attending to them like the truck drivers for them to have access to free testing and treatment,”
Dr. Datong stated that this year’s campaign will be the last one for the Abidjan Lagos Corridor across West Africa but noted that with more financial support from stakeholders, the committee may extend it further to 2018 or make the exercise a continuous one.
She said, “The campaign will end 2016 but we are hoping that if we are able to raise more funds, then the programme will continue to 2018 or for it to be a continuous thing.”
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