A faith-based NGO, Caritas International, has trained 50 faith-based community leaders and faith-based community-based organisations to accelerate HIV/AIDS service inclusiveness for children in Nigeria.
Deputy Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Babangida Audu, stated this during a two-day workshop in Enugu Tuesday for faith-based individuals and organisations inclined to HIV/AIDS services provision.
Audu noted that Caritas was out to sensitise priests and other faith-based organisations to intensify support on the issue of HIV/AVIDS care services at various communities in the country.
“We are using this workshop or training to empower them to know how and the best way to go about it without exposing these special children living positive with HIV/AIDS, to stigma or mockery that will discourage them.
“Caritas believe that priests and other faith-based organisations are agents of transformation and involving them in this laudable project will help the society take care of these special children,” he stated.
Mr Fabian Bassey, State Team Lead for Caritas Nigeria in Enugu state, said the training would enable faith-based leaders to go back to their communities and ensure early diagnosis and treatment for HIV/AIDS-positive children.
Bassey said the faith-based leaders would also strengthen all forms of engagements with the special children at the community level and ensure that they abide by the HIV/AIDS services both in terms of drug and psychological support.
“They would ensure that these special children, whose parents are positive with HIV/AIDS, are identified and linked to access to HIV/AIDS care services.
“They will be able to achieve this by talking to women and mothers around them to bringing out their children for HIV/AIDS test and if they are positive, they are placed on HIV/AIDS service provision.
“The leaders must ensure that the children accessing this care, even in the community, are devoid of stigma from members of the community,” he said.
One of the participants, Rev. Fr. Alfred Azige, said they would take the gospel (message) of HIV/AIDS care and services to the rural communities and the communities would benefit tremendously from it.
Azige, who is a champion of Galvanising Religious Leaders for Accelerated Identification and Linkage (GRAIL Project), assured that priests and faith-based organisations would work to ensure every child living positively with HIV/AIDS is captured, notwithstanding the location.