The Akwa Ibom State government has evolved new method named Test and Start Approach that would help ascertain the number of HIV/AIDS positive persons in the state.Director and Project Manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Nkereuwem Etok, disclosed this at a workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Health Training for Adolescent and Young Persons Counsellor Testers organised by Society for Family Health in Uyo.
He explained that the new method of testing for HIV/AIDS would not be administered on selected persons, but would involved persons of all ages and sex.He added that the result of the tests after samples and analyses have been carried out, would represent the general population of the people in the state and not only pregnant women, as was previously the case.
“If we can sustain the tempo, if government keeps tackling HIV/AIDS the way it’s doing now, we know new infections would be a thing of the past. Studies have shown that if HIV positive persons stay consistently on drugs for six months, the viral load will drop and the possibility of transmission will reduce.
“So, once the viral load drops to undetectable level, the person does not transmit again and that is why government has signed the Test and Start Approach,” he said.Etok pointed out that he was not in a position to argue with the assumption that the state was ranked second in HIV prevalence in the country because of the method and target persons used in carrying out analysis then.
“The survey that was used to rank Akwa Ibom state as second in the country was what we called ANC surveillance study, known as Ante-Natal studies done with pregnant women.
“But Governor Udom Emmanuel said this was not correct and sought to know the prevalence rate among the general population. We now included test babies, adult, men, women, educated and uneducated in all 31 local councils of the state,” he added.
Earlier, Deputy Programme Director, Global Fund for Support programme, Society for Family Health, Dr. Segun Ojideji said, 38 young persons from Akwa Ibom, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and Oyo State would have been trained at the end of the five-day workshop.
The Guardian News