One thing is for certain: the advent of HIV/AIDS came packaged with the anecdote of fear and hopelessness which largely incited stigmatization -out of a fear of the unknown. Subsequently emerging statistics mapping out pockets of HIV dense regions zeroed in on South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa; but the realization that HIV/AIDS was a global burden necessitated the huge influx of active investments spurred by international health organizations in an attempt to ameliorate its prevalence. The success achieved so far is largely from the responsiveness of Governments and other agencies in the form of donor funding and support. However “Getting to Zero” requires the effort of us all taking on the full responsibility of all the intricacies of the disease entity. We are glad to feature Dr. Prosper Okonkwo, the CEO of AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN), an indigenous NGO which evolved from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He highlights Nigeria’s progress, challenges and recommendations on the way forward.
It is also worthy of note that in the entire history of the human race, no other disease epidemic has gotten to a threshold of “Getting to Zero” in barely three decades! This edition uniquely highlights some of the huge leaps and breakthroughs in our special segment tagged “Gaining victory through innovations”. The first incident of HIV/AIDS was in 1981 and barely three decades later, technological advancements have yielded Truvada (for prevention among high risk populace), near 100% prevention of vertical transmission, commonizing the virus to the point of a self HIV testing home-kit. But unfortunately, these massive advancements seldom reflect in our attitudes in the area of #NoStigma for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) nor the disease entity in our environment. Is this primarily because of a knowledge deficiency? The fear of the unknown may have been excusable 30 years ago, but most definitely should not be today. Temitayo Oyedemi tells her bold and compelling story in our human angle column.
SO OUR QUESTION IS: How best can this be communicated en mass to cause a “new mindset” about HIV in Nigeria and across Africa? The trick may just be via a ‘mediator’ and Celebrities are best suited for the role. HALA had the pleasure of collaborating with some favorite Nigerian celebs- IllBliss, Dipp, WanaWana and RexxPincode for our video campaign produced by CAPital Dream Pictures and launched on the 1st of December, 2012 (World AIDS Day). For our Celeb Dz & Upshot column, we are ecstatic showcase the iconic Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – for whom music was a prime tool for advocacy, way beyond just entertainment. Perhaps, had the discovery of HIV/AIDS been fraught with just a little less mystic, Fela may possibly have single-handedly broken its back from the instant statistics showed its prevalence in Africa through the power of his music. With HALA’s prime focus on prevention, our male and female corners brings you captivating details on male circumcision and PMTCT respectively just as our First Aid page gives you a heads up on the first 72 hours after…
We at HALA are very excited to share this edition with you as it is our best yet! Packed full with high value informative and entertaining content, this edition is setting the stage for greater advancements in this New Year. So stick with your foremost health and lifestyle resource, and have a blissful 2013!!!