Cablegate: Update On Lagos State Aids Control Agency

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

061430Z Jul 05





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA)
continues to work with 11 state ministries, 20 local
governments, and over 400 organizations to reduce the
incidence and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Lagos
State. Achievements in 2004 included the expansion of
voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) centers at 13
public medical facilities and establishment of local
AIDS control agencies in all local government areas.
LSACA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Aderemi Desalu
believes it is time to move beyond addressing stigma
and focus on increasing personal responsibility for
being tested and taking appropriate action. In 2005,
LSACA, with its partners, will develop its next five-
year plan. The agency also will push for a state
HIV/AIDS bill and will explore adding anti-retroviral
treatment to the services provided by VCT centers. End

2. LSACA continues to work with 11 state ministries,
20 local governments, and over 400 organizations to
fight HIV/AIDS in Lagos. Eight work groups support
agency staff in coordinating activities: information,
education and communication; voluntary counseling and
testing; primary care and support; blood and blood
safety; justice and human rights; youth; resource
mobilization; and monitoring and evaluation. LSACA's
primary international partners are Family Health
International (FHI), the World Bank, UNICEF, ActionAid,
and the Society for Family Health (SFH).

2004 Achievments: VCT Scale-Up and
Local Agency Establishment

3. In 2004, LSACA made progress in several areas.
With support from USAID and in collaboration with FHI,
the agency conducted sensitization workshops for the
eleven collaborating state ministries and for local
government staffs. The Lagos State Ministry of Health,
FHI, and LSACA collaborated to improve voluntary
counseling and testing (VCT) centers at 13 public
hospitals and health centers. LSACA worked with local
governments to establish a local AIDS control agency
(LACA) in the 20 local government areas in the state.
Collaboration with the World Bank focused on civil
society organizations (CSOs), including training 450
staff members of CSOs in community mobilization,
proposal and report writing, financial reporting, and
monitoring and evaluation. UNICEF efforts focused on
prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs in
three hospitals, while ActionAid and SFH engaged in a
range of activities from policy workshops to condom
distribution. Working with the Lagos State Traditional
Medicines Board, LSACA trained 250 traditional medicine
practitioners and 60 traditional birth attendants. (In
addition to FHI and SFH, the USG also funds Hope
Worldwide, Community Participation for Action in the
Social Sciences (COMPASS), and the Nigerian Business
Community Against AIDS(NIBUCAA) through USAID; StopAIDS
through CDC, and SMARTWork through the Department of
Labor. All of these partners are collaborating to
provide HIV/AIDS services under the Emergency Plan in
Lagos State with the direction of LSACA.)

Result of Efforts: Reduced Stigma

4. Now in the final year of LSACA's first five-year
plan (2000-2005), Desalu claimed "amazing change" in
awareness and stigma since LSACA's inception. LSACA
reported over 90 percent of Lagos residents are now
aware of HIV/AIDS, compared to under 40 percent in
2000. As an example of decreased stigma, Desalu noted
that five years ago, people living with HIV/AIDS would
cover their faces in public interviews; now a network
of people living with HIV/AIDS exists to openly combat
discrimination. Other progress Desalu noted was
passage of a law making it an offense to transfuse
unscreened blood and the six-fold reduction in the cost
of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) during this five-
year span, with hopes of a further drop to N1000
($7.50) per month in 2005.

Next Hurdle: "Personal Conviction"

5. Believing that Lagos is largely beyond the problem
of stigma, Desalu said significant work remains to be
done in regard to "personal conviction." Lagos needs
to progress to the point where individuals are
concerned enough to be tested, confident that help is
available, and aware that earlier diagnosis is better.
Not discouraged by the still low level of use of VCT
centers, Desalu said the key is to have the
institutions and structures in place and continue
spreading the message consistently that resources are
available. The basic message he seeks to spread is
"you can know your HIV status; it's good to know your
HIV status; here's where you can be tested; and if
needed, here's where you can get help." Desalu noted
that progress has been made and continues in this area.
He observed that five years ago, most people would
question the value of knowing their HIV status; why be
tested just to receive bad news? Then VCT centers
emerged to provide some support and assistance, and now
ART is becoming available, providing some hope and a
reason to be tested.

Underway for 2005: Development
of Next 5-Year Plan

6. Many activities reported for 2004 are ongoing, but
Desalu also noted several new and future efforts.
LSACA is working with partners to develop the next five-
year plan. LSACA is pursuing "the three ones"
approach: one plan, one coordination system, and one
monitoring and evaluation system. LSACA will soon
complete a report on the use of VCT centers in the
state, which will also include information on
prevalence rates observed at the centers. Efforts of
the Justice and Human Rights Work Group currently focus
on working with the Lagos House of Assembly and
Ministry of Justice to pass an HIV/AIDS bill. As a
possible new activity for 2005, Desalu said he would
like to add ART to the services provided at VCT


7. Though significant progress in fighting stigma has
been made and more people living with HIV/AIDS are open
about their status, stigma remains a significant
problem in Lagos State. In the workplace, in
particular, few people with HIV/AIDS are open about
their status for fear of discrimination. However, as
stigma-fighting efforts continue, the state will
benefit from LSACA's focus on other areas.

© Scoop Media

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