National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) says Kwara is one of the states with lowest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the country.
NACA Chief Program Officer, Tajudeen Arowolo stated this at the opening of a Four-day Free Medical Outreach organized by the agency at Oja Tuntun, Boboko in Ilorin on Sunday.
Arowolo said that North Central geo political zone of the country was reputed to be the most endemic with the highest number of recorded cases of HIV. “This is because of the high cases recorded in Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). “Out of the states in North Central, Kwara has the lowest rate of HIV cases and one of the lowest in the entire country”, Arowolo said.
He said NACA has carried out similar free medical outreaches in many states of the federation with huge success. He said NACA screened, tested and gave results to 4, 441 people in Kogi state out of the 5,000 targeted people. He said out of the 4, 441 people that were tested, only 19 women tested positive to the disease.
He said 19 people were immediately referred to health facilities nearest to their residence to commence free treatment. He said there had been remarkable decrease of HIV cases in Nigeria as a result of NACA’s regular outreach programs. According to him, NACA’s constant awareness campaign and sensitization have helped in controlling the spread of the disease in the country.
Arowolo attributed the success of the outreach to the strategies adopted by NACA, one of which he said was the inclusion of free medical treatment for other illnesses like malaria, cough and blood sugar level. He also said that all nursing or pregnant women that came for the test and treatment would be given free mosquito nets treated with insecticide.
He said 5, 000 people were expected to come forward for the free test and medical treatment in Ilorin.
Ibrahim Umoru, Executive Director of Good Health Educators Initiatives, an NGO appealed to all Nigerian adults to endeavor to know their HIV status. He said Nigeria had the second highest burden of HIV globally.
He said counseling and testing for HIV was one of the entry points for HIV intervention, but noted that Nigerians performed low in this regard – just over seven million Nigerians knew their HIV status out of over170 million people in the country.
“People should come out to be tested. Gone are the days when testing for HIV meant death sentence. “Today, HIV is a manageable disease if it is discovered early enough before it becomes full blown AIDS”, Umoru added.
Abdulkadir Abubakar, Kwara State Action for the Control of Aids (KWASACA) Project and Monitoring Officer said the prevalence of the disease in Kwara has reduced drastically. Abubakar attributed this feat to KWASACA’s sustained advocacy, sensitisation and awareness campaign against the disease and its management.