Uyo - The Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Victoria Akyeampong, has said that the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in Akwa Ibom is higher than the national record.
Akyeampong made the statement in Uyo on Monday during the inauguration of Excellence Community Education Welfare Schemes (ECEWS); Young Women and Youth Health Confidence Centre.
She said the HIV and AIDS prevalent rate of 10.9 per cent in Akwa Ibom was “too high” compared to the national figure of 4.1 per cent.
The UNFPA representative said the formation of the youth health centre would help boost youths’ knowledge on HIV and AIDS.
She said the centre would provide sexual and reproductive health information and services, including HIV counseling and testing, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), hepatitis screening and family planning.
Akyeampong said while the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate was high, ``comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDS is low at 15.1 per cent amongst females and 25.3 per cent amongst males.
“This is compared to 23.4 per cent and 35.6 per cent at the national level, respectively.”
In her remark, the Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Valerie Ebe, pledged the government’s support for both the ECEWS and the UNFPA.
Ebe said that government’s commitment was to seek ways of eradicating the HIV epidemic in the state.
She called on the people to abstain from pre-marital and unprotected sex to reduce the HIV and AIDS pandemic and stressed that “sex is only for married couples.”
The Executive Director, ECEWS, Andy Eyo, said that the organisation had in the last seven years been able to provide services for more than 60 000 youths.
Eyo said the organisation had been working with 50 health facilities through community outreach efforts in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Abia.
He said that ECEWS also provided HIV testing and counselling for more than 80 000 persons within the period.
“The Confidence Centre project aims to increase access to sexual and reproductive health, including family planning for married and pregnant young women, especially persons involved in transactional sex,” he said.
The highpoint of the event was the inauguration of the ECEWS/UNFPA Young Women and Youth Health Confidence Centre.