World AIDs Day: University launches Youth Friendly Centre
Eme Offiong, Calabar
In furtherance of the global commitment towards ending the spread of the HIV virus, the University of Calabar Community has launched a one-stop Adolescent and Youth Friendly Centre for the benefit of students and staff of the institution.
The two storey building, which has an indoor sports facility, digital hub and a section for HIV/AIDs services, was commissioned by the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu.
Dr. Edu, who was conducted round the building by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi, commended the institution for supporting Cross River State Government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDs.
Reducing the prevalence rate
Edu also said the facility would provide free HIV services including treatment to more than forty thousand students and staff of the institution as part of strategies to contribute to the reduction of the prevalence of AIDs in Cross River State, which presently stands at 1.8 percent
“We are here at the University of Calabar with over forty thousand students, all our partners and the Cross River State Government. We are here to sensitize the students and create awareness on reducing HIV. Proudly, Cross River State has been able to reduce the prevalence rate from 6.6 percent 4 years ago to 1.8 percent presently.
“Today, a youth friendly centre was inaugurated in the University of Calabar and we are expecting that the 40 thousand students and even the staff that are in this community can come in here and get services free of charge.
More importantly, the students and staff would be able to access treatment here and you do not necessarily need to be HIV positive to visit the building. The students can come to this building for recreation such as play table tennis, chess and other indoor games. There is also a digital hub here, where students can benefit from. So, it is a one-stop shop that would be delivering HIV services to our students,” she said.
Commitment to zero transmission
On the state government’s effort to further reduce the prevalence rate of HIV, the Commissioner said that a facility community-based strategy has been evolved and stakeholders engaged for effective monitoring across the state.
She said, “We believe strongly that we can reduce it to zero. We have created a lot of facility community-based strategies to help us reduce the prevalence of HIV to zero. We are also working on zero transmission and prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission, PMTCT, of HIV/AIDs.
“Above all, we are trying to bring together all the stakeholders and coordinate effectively to monitor all interventions going on in the field for communities, for key population and indeed for all Cross River”, Edu stressed.
Utilizing the centre
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi commended the state government for choosing to celebrate this year’s World AIDS Day within the university community, which according to her, would enable thousands of students benefit from the experiences of other young people engaged in the fight to curb the spread of the HIV virus
Professor Obi stressed the need for students to imbibe the right attitude towards self-preservation and protection against the HIV virus, urged the university committee on HIV/AIDs, to effectively utilize the youth friendly centre to enhance its advocacy and sensitization efforts.
The Vice Chancellor stressed, “as an administration, we intend to increase advocacy, counselling and testing as well as sensitizing the students on responsible behavior; letting them know that AIDs is still very real and the Cross River State Government has done so much to reduce the prevalence of HIV. We are committed to increasing their consciousness to be careful.”
Highlight of the event, which has the theme “End Inequality, end AIDs through Sustainable HIV Financing”, was a street sensitization walk within the university of Calabar community.