Citizens of Akwa Ibom have again been reminded on the need to shun sexual promiscuity while adhering to regular test and counseling in order to stem the tide of HIV/AIDs pandemic in the state.
The state project manager of the agency for the Control of Aids -AKSACA, Dr. Nkereuwem Etok, who gave the warning while speaking with newsmen in Uyo, called for concerted effort in fighting the scourge of the disease.
He explained that although the state has achieved great heights with the support of government and donor agencies, a lot of help was still needed from private individuals to address the challenges posed by the existence of HIV/AIDs.
The agency according to him has continued to work to reduce mortality arising from the deadly disease, reduce number of new cases, while also ensuring infected mothers deliver without the babies contracting the deadly disease.
Etok further stated that the state government has made HIV test, counseling and administering of anti-retroviral drugs to infected persons to be free, while advising that people should rather ensure prevention by remaining faithful in their relationships.
He said that knowing one’s HIV status was necessary because of the present high prevalence rate of HIV infection among young persons aged between 15 and 24.
“It is important to reduce this worrying trend among Nigerian youths by encouraging faithful relationships; for those who cannot abstain from sex, the use of barrier protection such as condoms are advised. “Condoms prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
“The practice of having multiple sexual partners increases HIV vulnerability among the youth population alongside the very low HIV testing rates.
“It is worthwhile to know that only 17 per cent of young people know their HIV status; as such this is alarming enough to make them avoid risky behaviors’’ he stated. Currently, Akwa Ibom State HIV prevalence rate stands at 10.8 per cent placing the state second to Benue State based on the Antenatal Sentinel Survey done in 2014.