Reaching Women for Voluntary Counseling and Testing through Local Partnerships

Despite numerous campaigns promoting voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT), even in remote areas of Nigeria, encouraging women in the country to get tested is a challenge. Many women cannot leave their workplaces to access services and fear being stigmatized if they test positive.

That’s why URC’s HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Care Initiative (HACCI) project partnered with Women for Women International to better reach women living in rural Nigerian communities. HACCI is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Communication and the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief.

A locally established organization, Women for Women International works with more than 40,000 women in over 40 communities in Enugu and Plateau States. HACCI’s partnership with the organization enabled the project to launch three outreach campaigns to groups of women in the Enugu State. Through the campaigns, HACCI project staff discussed issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and offered VCT services to pre-established Women for Women groups. The campaigns reached more than 400 women for VCT services.

“I have always wanted to present myself for testing,” said one the women reached through the campaigns. “But I never could afford the time and transport cost to go to the nearest health facility for the test. My mind is now at rest.” 

About three out of every hundred women reached through the campaigns tested positive for HIV, and those women were linked to HACCI-supported health facilities and are receiving ongoing care and treatment services. 

A Successful Model

With help from Women for Women International, HACCI has successfully reached women needing HIV services in rural Nigeria. This success will pave the way for future partnerships between HACCI and local organizations to reach more rural communities. 

The five-year HACCI project, started in 2008, is supporting the Government of Nigeria to expand access to and improve the quality of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services and to build sustainable capacity in those areas at primary and secondary facilities in Enugu and Ebonyi States. By supporting mobilization of the communities served by these facilities, HACCI is fostering local ownership of the delivery of comprehensive HIV/AIDS services.

Women for Women International provides women with financial aid, job training, rights awareness, and leadership education. In addition to their work with women in Enugu and Plateau States, the organization has also trained more than 1500 male leaders and other stakeholders on community rebuilding and participation, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and other gender-related topics, including accessing justice for the socially excluded. 

Ikechukwu Ezekpeazu is the Deputy Chief of Party for the Nigeria HACCI Project; Kate Howell is the Knowledge Management Specialist for the International Development Group at URC; and Sarah Whitmarsh is the Communications Specialist for URC.

Women for Women International group members attend a voluntary counseling and testing service presentation in Enugu State, Nigeria.
Women for Women International group members attend a voluntary counseling and testing service presentation in Enugu State, Nigeria.
February 03, 2012
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