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Improving HIV/AIDS Awareness in Nigeria

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By Nicole

Females account for more than half of the people living with HIV globally.

Women and girls now account for more than half of all HIV patients worldwide, and one in every five new HIV infections occurs among adolescent girls and young women due to vulnerabilities created by cultural and socioeconomic barriers. According to a Statistics analysis, 1.9 million people in Nigeria would be living with HIV in 2021, with women being the most afflicted demographic, accounting for 1.1 thousand persons. This is despite the fact that Professor Morenike Ukpong has spent the last 21 years advocating for those living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Morenike is a prominent representitive for the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) consultant and Obafemi Awolowo University researcher whose work has influenced numerous HIV and research bioethics. She has taken part in a number of agenda-setting activities related to HIV/AIDS policy formation, design, implementation, analysis, and reporting at the national, regional, and international levels. She has given 118 conference presentations, many of which addressed the needs of essential and vulnerable communities. She was named the 19th best academic researcher in Nigeria in 2018 and the 11th best published academic researcher in Nigeria in 2019.

A lot has been done to build local capacity for people.

Her research, conducted in collaboration with a non-governmental organization, highlighted the psychological, sexual, and reproductive health needs of adolescents living with HIV, and resulted in the development of Nigeria’s first national HIV policy addressing programmatic HIV needs for adolescents in 2014. Morenike has worked in the fields of HIV/AIDS research, capacity building, and activism in Nigeria, Africa, and globally. This includes efforts to build local and international capacity to address community involvement in HIV prevention research, such as my previous work as the Community Liaison for the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and her current role with the Nigeria Canada AIDS Vaccine (NICCAV) Research Project in Nigeria and the national feasibility study on the use of PrEP as part of the combination prevention tool for serodiscordant couples in Nigeria.

Locally, she has spent a significant amount of time developing local capacity for CSOs, communities, academics, and Health Research Ethics Committees to engage in HIV prevention research through the design and execution of bioethics and research literacy trainings. Her community work puts her in direct contact with Key Affected Populations. This includes her 12 years of research literacy work with the Coordination of Programs for the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society, as well as her participation as the lead consultant for MARPs during the 2013 evaluation of global fund-supported interventions to HIV & AIDS response in Nigeria.

She serves as member of the National HIV Prevention.

In addition, the researcher has worked on various monitoring and evaluation projects both within and outside of Nigeria. This includes the 2010 impact evaluation of the African Regional capacity building Network for HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, and care project (ARCAN) in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia; the 2013 midterm review of the World Bank HIV project in Nigeria; the 2013 midterm report of national achievement on the UNAIDS ten target; and the development of the 2017-2021 National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan and the 2018-2020 National HIV Prevention Plan. Morenike has been a member of various agenda-setting activities connected to biomedical HIV prevention technology research and ethics problems on a global scale, including serving as a temporary adviser to the WHO and UNAIDS Headquarters in Geneva on multiple occasions.

As a participant in the yearly Microbicide Conference, the AIDS2031 Science and Technology Working Group, and the African AIDS Vaccine Program forum. She now serves on the National HIV Prevention Technical Working Group, the National HIV Research Reference Group, the National Biomedical HIV Prevention Working Group, and the National Global Fund HIV Operations Research Subcommittee, among other organizations. On some of these initiatives, she has worked as a consultant to national and international development organizations such as ITAD, Mitchells Group, UNICEF, Society for Family Health, NACA, Population Council, WHO, and UNAIDS. She has also worked across Africa, including Kenya, Botswana, and Malawi.

Has also been working on starting a Global Health Initiative Programme.

Morenike is a sectional editor for the BMC Oral Health, a representative of the Editorial Board for Global Bioethics, and an International Adviser for the Community Dental Health Journal. She also serves as the Managing Editor of the Nigeria Journal of Health Sciences, the official journal of the College of Health Sciences at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. She is currently working on establishing a Global Health Initiative Program in order to enhance health outcomes for people worldwide. Morenike received her BChD in 1989 and her MBA in 1998 from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, as well as her membership in the West African College of Surgeons in 2001 and her MEd in 2020 from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus.

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