The heroes dedicated their lives to preventing HIV, eliminating HIV-related stigma and health disparities, as well as empowerment of people living with the disease.

They were earlier honoured by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Nigeria Program, on June 10 as part of the commemoration of PEPFAR’s 15th anniversary.

The awardees are Professor Babatunde Osotimehin (former Director General NACA/Minister of Health and Executive Director of UNFPA — Posthumous) Prof. John Idoko (former DG, NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, (DG NACA) , Brigadier General Nurudeen Ayoola Hussain (rtd) (Nigerian Armed Forces), Mrs. Samuel, Grace Toni, and Mr Victor Olaore Omoshehin (former National Coordinator, NEPWHAN)

Others are: Ms. Tobore Ovuorie (Independent journalist and researcher), Dr William Blattner (U.S.A), Ukam Reginald Assumpta ( National Coordinator, ASHWAN) and Dr Patrick Olabiyi Matemilola ( Pioneer National Coordinator, NEPWHAN).

The others are : Mrs Lucy Attah Enyia, (Executive Director, Society of Women & Children Living with HIV Abuja), Alban Anonyuo, Activist/Initiator of Sex Workers Association), MWO Musa Emmanuel (rtd), Major General Ogbonnaya Simon Njoku (rtd), (Nigerian Armed Forces ), Major General Tahir Umar (rtd) (Nigerian Armed Forces) and Major General Life Ajemba (rtd) (Nigerian Armed Forces).

Brigadier General Nurudeen Ayoola Hussain (rtd), an awardee, is the Director –General, of the Health Implementation Programme of US Department of Defence Walter Reed Program-Nigeria (MODHIP-USDODWRP-N), a programme that helped reduce the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among Nigerian military personnel.

He said HIV was a major problem in the country for a long time and that he felt honoured to be one of those who have continued to combat the disease and ensure that it does not constitute a public health threat in the country.

He said some significant contributions against the HIV epidemic in Nigeria include , “access to drugs, it is no longer a death sentence, it helped to improve infrastructure in most hospitals , there are laboratory capabilities now that enable people to check their viral loads at least twice a year , the reduction of stigma and discrimination of HIV patients.”

He commended PEPFAR and NACA saying that the national HIV prevalence as at 2001 was about 5% but that the activities of the organisations has helped reduce the prevalence to 1.4% as revealed by the recent NAIIS survey. Director General of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu was honoured for his attention to empowering People Living with HIV, vulnerable women and girls, key populations, adolescent and young people and ensuring better support and coordination of civil society and faith-based responses .

Speaking during the ceremony in Abuja, he said the 16 awardees were drawn from government, civil society, media and private citizens, and had gone beyond the call of duty to serve those affected by HIV. He said some of them are now dead and it is important to recognize their sacrifices. Dr Aliyu said HIV was not just a health issue but a development problem because it affected the most productive part of the community.

Source: DailyTrust 

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