Odot - The Akwa Ibom State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA) said on Monday that HIV/AIDS prevalence in the state had dropped from 10.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
The Chairman of SACA, Dr Francis Udokpong, made the disclosure at the Free Medical Outreach of HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign in Odot, organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). Odot is a community in the Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme was organised by NACA in collaboration with the office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
He said that the state, which formerly occupied the second position in the country, now occupied the sixth position. Udokpong said that the reduction was due to improvement in people's response to the awareness created by SACA in collaboration with other partners on HIV/AIDS.
"It was an embarrassment to me when I came in as the chairman of SACA and discovered that Akwa Ibom occupied the second position in the HIV prevalence rate in the country. "What I did then was to let people know what HIV is all about because they don’t know what it means; what it does and what it is all about.’’ Udokpong advised people to stay away from "risky social behaviour and multi-partnership" in order to reduce HIV infections in the state.
In his remarks, the Director-General of (NACA),Prof. John Idoko,commended the State Government for its efforts toward the reduction of the scourge in the state. Idoko, represented by Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NACA Deputy Director Programme Coordination, said that Nigeria was rated the third in Africa in terms of mother-to-child transmission.
"This presupposes that the country has more people to treat and going by the prevalence rate, if adequate measures are not taken, it may not meet the 2015 MDGs target." Idoko, however, urged those tested to maintain their status by avoiding any act that could lead to transmission of the deadly virus.
"No fewer than 40 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS are not aware because they have not gone for test. We are in Akwa Ibom to encourage people on the need to come out for testing to know their status. Those who are already infected should come out for counselling on how to manage the scourge."
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the choice of Nsit Atai Local Government area for the programme was due to the prevalence of the scourge in the area.