NPA Sensitize Truck Drivers, Port Operators On HIV/AIDS

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (ALCO) yesterday kick-started the first phase of its free HIV/ AIDS sensitization exercise for truck drivers and other port operators for 2014.

At the opening of the programme tagged: "Getting To Zero" at the Tin Can port, Chairperson of the scheme in Nigeria, Dr. Comfort Datong explained that the project is aimed at increasing access to HIV prevention and to provide basic treatment and care to the vulnerable groups.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (ALCO) yesterday kick-started the first phase of its free HIV/ AIDS sensitization exercise for truck drivers and other port operators for 2014.

At the opening of the programme tagged: "Getting To Zero" at the Tin Can port, Chairperson of the scheme in Nigeria, Dr. Comfort Datong explained that the project is aimed at increasing access to HIV prevention and to provide basic treatment and care to the vulnerable groups.

According to her, the project which is sponsored by the World Bank is targeted mainly at transport workers, migrants, sex workers, Customs and Immigration officers as well as the local population living and working along the corridor, especially at border towns.

Datong pointed out that the programme holds quarterly. The project which started in 2010 among corridor countries was first implemented February 2012 in Nigeria within Tin Can and Apapa ports.

According to her, about 26 positive cases that were recorded in the last exercise have been referred to retro viral centres in Yaba, Lagos for general management and treatment.

"We do it in such a way that we don't know them personally, we give them their privacy, we don't want to know them personally so that they will feel free to come for the next exercise", she explained.

On HIV/AIDS, she said: "There is no cure, but there is a form of treatment to keep the virus down so that you can live your normal life, but if you don't know your status and the virus is busy multiplying in your body, by the time you get to know it will be late"

According to Datong, yesterday’s exercise is expected to last for five days, other flash points apart from Tin Can port include PTML and the Apapa Port.

"Our target audience is the truck drivers, so we go into the terminals where we have them, NPA takes care of their workers, but the truck drivers don't have anybody to take care of them, and yet they are a vulnerable group, this is a world bank assisted project collaborating with every country, it is not only in Nigeria, it cuts across the corridor, from Abidjan to Lagos" she said.