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Gbazango Community Receives Sensitization on HIV Prevention

As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate World AIDS Day 2023 with the theme, “Communities: Leadership to End AIDS by 2030”, the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has collaborated with the Association of Positive Youths in Nigeria (APYIN) to sensitize Gbazango community on HIV and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) prevention in their community.

The sensitization activity started with a road walk from the NYSC junction in Kubwa Abuja to the Gbazango Chief Palace where community members gathered to participate in an interactive session on HIV and GBV.

IHVN Senior Program Officer Prevention, Care and Treatment, Ms. Ngozi Elema urged the community to spread the word about HIV prevention to others. “There are new approaches to HIV prevention such as the use of self-test kits for HIV testing. People don’t need to be ashamed to get tested for HIV. People living with HIV can access treatment and live well.  Women living with HIV can have HIV-free babies. They should not be stigmatized.”

Gbazango Youth Leader, Mr. Musa Jagaba said that the program has enlightened more youths about curbing the spread of the disease. “There is this stigma that comes with having HIV but with better understanding, community members can realize that HIV is not a death sentence and should treat people living with HIV well. I have told them to contact us in the palace for more information on how to link people living with HIV with the necessary care, treatment, and prevention of GBV. Some of them do not know that they can be protected from gender-based violence.”

APYIN FCT Coordinator, Mrs. Victoria Abah noted that “research has shown that young girls are more vulnerable to GBV especially in rape, early marriage, emotional and physical abuse. We don’t just want to speak about HIV prevention but about gender-based violence because GBV is part of stigma. We call women to speak up. Don’t die in silence when experiencing GBV.”

IHVN Participates in 54th Union World Conference

The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has participated in the 54th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Paris. The conference, which had the theme, “Transforming Evidence into Practice,” provided a platform for implementers and researchers to share experiences and present the latest scientific research on lung health, to network, and discuss the need for evidence-based health policies and decisions.

IHVN facilitated a symposium and presented 14 oral abstracts and five e-posters. Staff from the USAID TB-LON 3 project, Global Fund Public Private Mix (GF PPM) and International Research Center of Excellence (IRCE) shared experiences and research findings from the Institute’s project and research activities in Nigeria.

Abstracts were presented on community tuberculosis screening activities, the use of artificial intelligence for tuberculosis case-finding, private-sector collaboration to fight tuberculosis, childhood tuberculosis, and drug-resistant tuberculosis amongst others.

IHVN staff also participated in sharing information about efforts to address tuberculosis in Nigeria at the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program (NTBLCP) and USAID booths.

IHVN Director of TB Programs and Chief of Party of the USAID TB-LON 3 Project, Dr. Aderonke Agbaje, said that “Nigeria has made progress in engaging all stakeholders towards finding the missing tuberculosis cases, improving the coverage of tuberculosis treatment and providing quality, patient-centered services. IHVN contributed significantly to the country’s success and as such, it is important to share the best practices we deployed in achieving this. We also learned about novel interventions, new tools, and new regimens that will further improve the services we provide,” she said.

Prior to the conference, Dr. Agbaje joined more than 130 participants at the Global Meeting of the Working Group on Public-Private Mix (PPM) for TB Prevention and Care to share experiences on PPM implementation, innovative approaches as well as lessons learned from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on private sector health service delivery in Nigeria.

IHVN Wins Five Gold Trophies at FIDAF Tournament

IHVN Wins Five Gold Trophies at FIDAF Tournament

In a resounding display of teamwork and determination, the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) has won gold trophies in football, chess, tug-of-war, basketball, and relay at the 12th Federation of International Agencies Football (FIDAF) Tournament organized in Abuja.

The FIDAF tournament, which is organized for non-governmental organization employees to foster work-life balance and promote a healthy company culture, brought together implementing partners to play badminton, table tennis, volleyball, football, basketball, tug-of-war, relay race, chess.

IHVN Director, Administration and Finance, Mr. Olu Alabi, who was present at the tournament gave a “Kudos to the IHVN team” for a job well done. He represented the IHVN management and cheered the football team to victory. The IHVN team also came second place in table tennis and got a bronze medal in volleyball.

IHVN Assistant Team Manager and IHVN Senior Building Services Officer, Ikeobi Mbonu expressed his excitement at the victory.

“I am super excited, I can’t believe that we finally have the football trophy, last year we did not get it but this year we do, we thank God for giving us life and good health. I also want to appreciate my colleagues who came to practice regularly and those who came to cheer us.  Keep the IHVN flag flying high. We’re coming back stronger,” he added.

Coach Kolawole Lebi, who trained the football players, appreciated the IHVN management for their support. “They drafted me because they believed in me and we did it!”

IHVN Senior Program Officer Laboratory, Mr Muyiwa Balogun who played chess as the defending champion, said that it was a remarkable outing. “It was very tough in the beginning but each time we play, we meet different opponents. I’m happy I was able to deliver.  Up IHVN! I feel happy” he said.

FIDAF Tournament Organizer, Grace Uadia said that to encourage healthy competition and time to unwind, FIDAF will coordinate monthly friendly competitions. “It has been hectic putting this together, but it’s been worth it. The idea is not to play and forget work but to train, build capacity and then play.  There have been certain challenges but at the end it is worth it” she added.

Staff of organizations such as Society for Family Health, AFENET, APIN Public Health Initiatives, E-Health, British High Commission, ECEWS, and the US Embassy participated in the tournament.

Biotechnicians Receive Training on Laboratory Equipment Maintenance

To enhance the skills of biotechnicians to maintain laboratory equipment across the country, the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) has conducted a five-day training on calibration and certification of biosafety cabinet (BSC) equipment.

 IHVN NSF Enhanced Accredited Biosafety Cabinet Certifier, Mr. Olatokun F Ayobami, said that BSC equipment is the main containment equipment used to safeguard laboratory workers and the environment against infectious biological materials. “The training is to build the capacities of staff of Implementing Partners and the government,” he said.

Participants were taken through lectures and practical sessions on installing, using, and performing basic checks for Bio-safety cabinets.

IHVN Senior Technical Adviser, Laboratory Services, Dr. Sam Peters urged participants to utilize the skills gained at the basic certification training. “This is the first time this kind of training is being held in Nigeria. I urge you to hold firmly to what you have learned,” he said.

A trainee, Mr. Nsiffiok Sebastian Okon noted that the training has equipped them and spurred them to advance towards being internationally certified Biosafety Cabinet Engineers. “The training has been very instructive with a lot of opportunity for hands-on sessions,” he said.

Community Mothers-Love Parties Provide HIV Services to Women 

More than 300 pregnant and lactating women in Chibiri and Gaube communities in Kuje, Abuja have received free HIV counseling and testing services at Mother’s-Love Parties organized by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN).

Mothers-Love Party, which is an IHVN initiative, is a gathering for women and children in communities to sensitize women on care for their babies, personal and environmental hygiene, the importance of immunization and registration, and antenatal care. In such parties, IHVN also provides mother-care packs for women with items such as sanitary pads, gloves, and cotton wool, amongst others.

IHVN Senior Program Officer, Mrs. Helen Mutong said “By organizing Mothers-Love Parties, IHVN aims to increase awareness, enhance access to services, and ultimately reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child. This strategic approach ensures that all pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and pediatric patients receive the necessary support and care for a healthy outcome in line with the overall Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) strategy.”

During the mother’s love parties in Kuje, free malaria, hepatitis B, and syphilis tests were also provided for attendees, including children between the ages of 1-14 years.

Mrs. Mutong added “we have seen that some pregnant women do not go to the hospital to access care, so we are bringing care to them. Most of the women would rather have their children through Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). We work with the TBA to ensure safe deliveries and referral to the nearest health facility.”

Other strategies being adopted to reach women in communities include collaboration with religious leaders to create awareness about the need for HIV testing especially for pregnant women.

One of the pregnant women who got tested, Mrs. Ona, (pseudonym) expressed her joy at the initiative. “Most times, we do not have transport to go to the hospital and when we go, they give us a list of things to buy so we just decide to have our baby at home, but today, IHVN has shared these packs that have everything we need for delivery, so I am very happy,” she said.