By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus - Ugandan HIV research activist, Winifred Ikilai, 29, who is championing global efforts to end HIV/AIDS, has won the Omololu Falobi Award for her benevolence in HIV/AIDS prevention research community advocacy.
The award is in honour of Omololu Falobi, a Nigerian journalist and HIV/AIDS activist who passed on in 2006. Ikilai was honoured on February 4 last week via Zoom after a weeklong HIV/AIDS Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) virtual conference.
The conference was organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and it is the only global scientific conference dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV/AIDS prevention research.
“The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected HIV service delivery including prevention, care, treatment, and mostly research. However, communities and networks of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) worked tirelessly to ensure there is uninterrupted access to treatment and care for PLHIV during the lockdown,” Ikilai explained in her acceptance speech.
Ikilai, who works with the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), received the award due to her bold work during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown that saved many lives of People Living with HIV (PLHIV).
“As a young advocate, I couldn’t sit and watch PLHIV dying due to lack of drugs. I started advocating access to drugs. I worked with other advocates on social media to amplify our voices and demand for supportive mechanisms for PLHIV to access drugs and food, at their homes during the lockdown,” she said.
Ikilai aided in the development of the “Beyond My Pill Campaign” to advocate for the effective implementation of test and treat policy. In this campaign, she advocated that, beyond just getting people tested and enrolls them on HIV/AIDS treatment, they must ensure that people are mentally stable and prepared enough to take their drugs for life.
Besides, another Ugandan, Shakirah Namwanje, from the Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organizations finished first runner-up for the Omololu award.
The Omololu Award was started to pay tribute to the life and work of Omololu Falobi, who was a Nigerian journalist and a leading HIV/Aids activist but died in a tragic accident 12 years ago in Nigeria.