Cross River canvasses for HIV/AIDS prevention

Eme Offiong, Calabar

There is need for rapid scale up of HIV counselling and testing services.

Nigerians have been advised to embrace abstinence to curb the spread of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome-AIDS, a life-threatening condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV.

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade gave the advice after a city walk to mark the World AIDS Day in Calabar, the capital city.

“Condom alone cannot prevent the spread of the virus particularly amongst our young people. What can stop the spread is total abstinence from any sexual activity and loyalty or fidelity to one’s partner or spouse,” Governor Ayade said.

His wife, Mrs. Linda Ayade also called on stakeholders to collaborate to mitigate the spread of the virus.

A city walks to mark the World AIDS Day in Calabar.
A city walk to mark the World AIDS Day in Calabar.

New infection rising
According to her, “the number of new infection is rising. As such, HIV prevention efforts must be reinvigorated. We are raising our hands in support of more condoms, inclusion, social protection, sex education, testing, faithfulness and abstinence.”

The Sponsor of the World AIDS Day campaign, Lafarge Africa in a message by the Public Affairs Director, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem said that the issues of health and safety remained top priority in the values of the company.

“We are proud to be part of this today and make a great difference in peoples’ lives and save as many lives, particularly of young persons. We have sponsored today’s city-wide campaign in response to the call for all to hands up for the prevention. Our concern is to ensure the message gets to the rural communities.”

“We remain committed to the wellbeing of our workers, their families and our host communities as we constantly provide treatment and support for those living with the virus as well as continually fight against discrimination and stigmatisation. We urge people to help put an end to stigmatisation to enhance access to treatment,” she stated.

It’s very important to know one’s status.
It’s very important to know one’s status.

Upgrade services
The Director General of State Agency for the Control of AIDS, SACA, Mrs. Rose Nyambi stressed the need for “rapid scale up of HIV counselling and testing services.”

Nyambi hinted that, “there are about 164,267 reported cases of people living with the virus in Cross River State made up of 103,000 females and 61,827 males. It is disheartening to report that only 25,907 – that is 9,344 males and 16,563 females – are on Anti-Retroviral Therapy-ART.”

She further stated that, “While Nigeria has the third largest burden of HIV and AIDS in the world, Cross River State ranks 5th in the national HIV prevalence scale with a prevalence of 6.6 percent and the highest Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission, PMTCT, HIV prevalence of 10.2 percent”.

She emphasised the need for early uptake of antenatal care, vigorous pursuit of the effective compliance with the extant policy on condom placement in hotels as well as get couples to undergo joint testing and counselling to achieve the global vision to end AIDS.

Mr. Bam Uket, who represented the religious community, urged Nigerians to know their HIV status, access treatment and stop all forms of discrimination; while advising the State government to upgrade primary healthcare facilities which includes counselling and testing units.