UNODC commemorates the 2022 World AIDS Day by supporting the launch of national training manuals and information, education and communication (IEC) materials.

Abuja, 1 December 2022-The World AIDS Day (WAD) is commemorated every 1 December to mourn those who have passed away due to AIDS and to continue raising awareness about the epidemic. The 2022 WAD global theme was Equalise and the national theme Equalise to end AIDS: Equal access to treatment and prevention services. The theme sought to draw attention to removing barriers that affect uptake of HIV services through the promotion of equal access across populations, especially vulnerable and key population groups, such as people who use drugs and people in detention and other close settings.

In line with this year’s theme, UNODC partnered with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in launching two national training manuals and information, education and communication (IEC) materials on gender-based violence, drug overdose, medication assisted treatment (MAT) as well as stigma. The Training Manual Addressing the Specific Needs of Women Who Inject Drugs aims to building the capacity of healthcare workers and community service providers to effectively address access gaps for female injecting drug users in line with national guidelines, while the Training Manual for Law Enforcement Officials on HIV Service Provision for Key Populations aims to integrate a public health approach into policing in a way that enables the police and other law enforcement officials proactively engage with key populations for improved HIV outcomes. As such these knowledge products constitute important contributions in support of increased and uninterrupted access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services for people who use drugs and people in detention and other closed settings, one of the priority actions in UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Nigeria. 

The Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr Oliver Stolpe in his remarks congratulated the Government of Nigeria for integrating law enforcement officials into the national HIV/AIDS response and expressed confidence that the two training manuals would contribute to improved HIV outcomes for key populations. He also thanked donors for supporting, “I am particularly pleased to join, as today we shall witness the launch of two critical publications, as well as information, education and communication (IEC) materials designed to reach key populations, including people who inject drugs. As you know, reducing HIV infections among key populations, and reaching them with lifesaving treatment remains a challenge we cannot afford to fail. HIV prevalence among key populations stands at 11%, around 8 times higher than the prevalence rate among the general population. Consequently, unless we succeed in addressing the specific needs of key populations, we will not reach our goal of ending the epidemic, neither in Nigeria nor globally. At UNODC we are most grateful to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) for allowing us to provide the technical support to the development of these important tools.”

The Director General, NACA represented by the Director, Community Prevention, Care Services department, Mr. Alex Ogundipe said the development of capacity building manuals and messages addressing identified structural issues was apt. He added that there was no better way to ensure equality at supply and demand levels of the HIV response in Nigeria. The Country Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) represented by Gabriel Undelikwo congratulated NACA for ensuring that an enabling environment was created for implementers and beneficiaries to interact meaningfully.

Other key stakeholders in attendance were the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, National AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and STIs Control Programme (NASCP), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Implementing partners and civil society organisations including the key population secretariat were also in attendance. The event and WAD commemoration ended with a candlelight memorial conducted by the Network of People living With HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN).