#HIV: Gaining victory through innovation!
Although a definite cure for HIV has not been discovered yet (despite claims from quarters in Nigeria), the fight against HIV has reached a crescendo where innovative breakthroughs have demystified the dreaded HIV, inspiring high hopes of getting to zero. These three are our unique picks as featured on our #HIV/AIDS edition of HALA Magazine.
Toll-Free HIV Help lines
The Problem: Stigmatization still makes HIV/AIDS a social issue. Most people living with HIV do so in uttermost secrecy.
Despite the high number of people living with HIV, it is a major social issue in Nigeria, therefore, stigmatization is still a big deal. The implication is “hush hush” conversational patterns centred on anonymity which unfortunately limits easy access to help for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
Innovative Solution: Nigeria is not left out in the spate of information technology innovations. By leveraging on the proliferation of mobile phones, the National Agency for Control of AIDS in Nigeria (NACA) runs a toll-free line to provide instant reliable information.
How it Works: Through the HIV toll free lines, people living with HIV can get immediate response of counseling by calling or sending sms to the designated numbers FOR FREE! This is a National project and it engages the major GSM operators. Airtel and Etisalat provide the toll-free calls while MTN, Glo, Airtel, and Starcomms provide sms short codes through which PLWHA can have proper access to counsel.
Other Findings: Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), a youth centric NGO anchors the 0802 719 2780 HIV Helpline which covers Lagos and the South West Zone of Nigeria. Their line receives an average of 20 – 40 calls daily and the frequently asked questions related to enquires about treatment, support groups, issues on stigmatization, PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission), Pediatric ARVs, locations of counseling and testing centres. Call statistics show that there are more male callers using the service.