Binta Ejo addresses USAID General Counsel Craig Wolf during a visit in October 2019. “I want to thank the American people who, through USAID, saved me and my girls with the continuum of HIV services at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital. We are grateful.”Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo/MSH
Binta Ejo was diagnosed with HIV in 2006. As a young, single woman, she struggled to cope with her diagnosis but listened when her sister encouraged her to seek treatment. Today, she is the proud mother to three-year-old twin girls, born HIV-free, and works as an HIV case manager at the same hospital that helped her live positively with HIV. This transformation took place after she joined a support group meeting at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH) in Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria. Binta’s support group became a source of strength.
Abdulkadir Kayode is an active member and leader in his adolescents-only support group.Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo/MSH
Five years ago, 17-year-old Abdulkadir Kayode was diagnosed with HIV and too ill to attend school. He had lost his parents to HIV-related illnesses and was shunned by his classmates and neighbors for his condition. Today, Abdulkadir has achieved viral suppression, is attending school every day, and dreams of becoming a soccer player and successful businessman.
Adolescents and a few MSH staff pose for the camera after the Adolescent and Young People Program and Symposium held in Abuja, Nigeria. Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo/MSH
In commemoration of World Aids Day 2019, MSH, through the USAID Care and Treatment for Sustained Support (CaTSS) Project, joined in a week of activities hosted by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the Federal Ministry of Health. In collaboration with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the government launched the “Undetectable equals Untransmittable” (U=U) campaign on November 25—a strategic campaign to help achieve zero new infections and reduce stigma for Nigerians living with HIV.
Omena Eghaghara, Supply Chain Management Specialist for the CaTSS project, visits with Mayowa. Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo/MSH
By Omena Mimi EghagharaOmena Mimi Eghaghara is a Supply Chain Management Specialist for the USAID Care and Treatment for Sustained Support (CaTSS) Project, based in Kwara State, Nigeria. One September day in 2018, while providing supportive supervision to one of the CaTSS-supported facilities in Kwara state, I made the first of many calls to Mayowa, a 21-year-old medical student living with HIV. Mayowa was exhausted and losing hope.
MSH staff member, Christopher Ogar, verifies information from a HIV testing services register with facility staff at General Hospital Suleija in Niger state, Nigeria.Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo/MSH
In Nigeria, home to the world’s second-largest HIV epidemic, successfully linking every person who tests positive for HIV to accessible and culturally appropriate care and support services is a big challenge.Gender and sociocultural norms can create barriers to linkage, particularly in northern states of Nigeria such as Kebbi, where some women need permission from their husbands to start treatment.
Story and photos by Aor IkyaaboMary John is a 47-year-old mother of two and a hair stylist by profession. She is also one of Nigeria’s mentor mothers — women who provide counseling and essential health education to other HIV-positive mothers in their communities. As a peer and mentor, she teaches these women about how they can prevent their babies from contracting HIV and keep themselves and their families healthy.Mary had been living with the virus for several years before she tested positive.