Coalition to reach 18,000 Nigerians for free HIV Testing

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 as part of its activities marking 2016 World AIDS Day.

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 target of the coalition which already is in its second year includes 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 or major public health issues as well as organized fundraising for children orphaned by the disease.

Emeka Mba, the Coalition’s convener, at a media parley/symposium in Lagos stated that this year, they are building on the successes which was 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.

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

Speaking, YEDI’s Executive Director, Anu Ishola noted that the pan-Nigeria coalition will leverage each party’s strength and network.

“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.”