As a way of stemming the spread of HIV as well as neglected tropical diseases in Africa, Access Bank Plc in partnership with HACEY Health Initiative, a the EndFund and the Nigeria Business Coalition against AIDs, held a free screening session for participants of the recently held Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
Speaking on the need to hold free HIV testing and counselling for more Nigerians, Head of Sustainability, Corporate Communications at Access Bank, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan stated that in line with what the annual Marathon stands for, the screening exercise is also to encourage people to live lifestyles that will help to prevent incidences of HIV and for people to know what their statuses are so that they can get treated if they need treatment and they can continue safe lifestyles if that is the outcome of the test.
“Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is done to promote healthy lifestyles. It not only places Nigeria on a global scale, it also helps ensure that we build a model that works locally in Nigeria and of course, but it also helps to ensure that our people are more aware of their health statuses and that they change their lifestyles to healthier lifestyles,” she said.
Also speaking, Omobolanle stated that the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which started some years back has increased the level of awareness among some Nigerians in terms of being fit, in terms of health as well as the need for exercising.
“This is a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people and forms the right platform for us as well to then utilise and advocate on issues of significant health importance or challenge. You may be aware that about 53,000 people die from AIDS on an annual basis in Nigeria. There is a need to bring down this figure, if possible to zero. there is a need for us to prevent new infections. there is a need for people that are infected already to get tested. know their statuses and go get treatment so that they can lead normal lifestyles,” she said.
Oyetola Oduyemi, the Africa Regional Adviser to END Fund, one of the partners of Access Bank revealed that her body is dedicated to tackling the most prevalent and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to rally round to stakeholders to give the diseases a voice, to let people know what they are, how they can be prevented. they can be prevented, they can be treated and we believe that by shining the light on these diseases, we can reduce the burden.
“The Sustainable Development Goals actually specifically mentions HIV/AIDS, malaria and the Neglected Tropical Diseases. So we have a mandate as a country to kill off the neglected tropical diseases by 2030,” she stated.
Rhoda Robinson, the Executive Director of Hacey Health Initiative, another partner of Access Bank also stated that more than 1.8 million people are still living with HIV Aids in Nigeria alone and up to 41% are residents of six states, Lagos state being one of those.
“We are working towards achieving the 909090 goal which means that 90% of people know their HIV status, 90% of those who know their HIV status can access treatment and then 90% of those who access treatment achieve viral suppression, in other words, their viral load is undetectable which means that transmission is obsolete.
“We need to start working together as partners but from the non-profit sector, and the private sector and the government towards achieving zero HIV new infections in Nigeria and ensuring that more people have access to antiretroviral treatment.”