2019 Advocacy-for-Cure Academy
Oluwatobi Victor Popoola
Institution: AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Country of work: Nigeria
What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?
I have come to realize that the expectation for cure is beyond what we read or hear, it is the unquestionable life thread of hope for millions living with the virus and I believe that as medical researchers, the onus lies on us to try our possible best to find a lasting solution. Recent advancements as regards cure had renewed hopes of many and I believe it is important we sustain the momentum and increase the awareness of relevant stakeholders towards committing more resources and coming up with policies that will accelerate cure efforts and provide enabling environment for researchers.
What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?
Despite significant achievements in the management of HIV, stigma and discrimination still remains a big issue, leading to widespread violation of human rights. This had even been identified as a major impediment to treatment access and prevention of further infections in Nigeria. Domesticating the Anti-discrimination act in states is taking longer than expected, with recent findings from a stigma clinic conducted by my organization revealing unbelievable hardships PLHIVs go through as a result of discrimination. Working closely with civil societies, my recent advocacy work is to relate these issues more clearly with the stakeholders and push for rapid domestication in the state, such that individuals can have a legal backing to seek redress, thereby serving as a deterrent to violators.
How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?
The current training/quality services portfolio I am handling for my organization makes me a focal person to drive innovation and disseminate best practices. Access to information on first hand basis will be useful in developing research protocols and tailored advocacy tool kit as regards HIV cure. With the extensive relationship, I have with relevant stakeholders, I stand a good chance to share my experience and galvanize renewed energy towards HIV cure research in the country. Experience from other countries will likewise widen my horizon towards making meaningful contributions and improving the current HIV cure research landscape.