Monday, April 21, 2014

One in every 55 people living with HIV/AIDS in Cross River – SACA DG

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SACA in Cross River has about 80 support groups of people living with the virus, with a minimum of 25 persons in each group.

One in every 55 persons living in Cross River state, in the oil rich Niger Delta, lives with Acquired Immune Deficiency  Syndrome, AIDS, the Director-General of the Cross River State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (SACA), Irene Aniyom, has said.

Ms Aniyom said that state, with a population of 3.1 million has 56,350 persons currently living with HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Aniyom made this disclosure in an interview on Tuesday in Calabar.

“Today in the state, we have 56,350 people living with the virus,” she said. “We have to update it on a regular basis since 2005.”

According to her, the infected persons receive anti-retroviral drugs at different centres in the state.

She said that SACA had formed a group known as “Cross River Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS,’’ to monitor the infected persons.

Ms. Aniyom said the network has about 80 support groups of people living with the virus, with a minimum of 25 persons in each group.

The Director General of SACA said that many people are now aware of the diseases, due to the activities of SACA and other groups involved in the campaign against the spread of the disease.

“If you go to various HIV testing and counselling centres across the state, you will find many people coming out to know their status,’’ she said.

Ms. Anyim said SACA had also established Local Action Committees on Control of HIV/AIDS (LACA) in each of the 18 Local Government Areas in the state, headed by the chairmen of the council.

“This is because we found out that the disease spreads faster in rural areas,” Ms. Aniyom said.

She said that the monitoring and evaluation unit of the agency conducted regular monitoring of the activities of LACA and collated data on their activities.

“Also, chairmen of the Local Government Areas pay N200,000 to their LACA every month to facilitate their activities.

“While on our part we give them N3,000 monthly to fuel to facilitate mobility in their campaigns,’’ she said.

The agency has also identified faith-based organisations to assist SACA in carrying out campaigns in churches and mosques in the state.

According to Ms. Anyim, SACA is also collaborating with the state’s ministry of education to carry out HIV/AIDS campaigns in schools.

“It is on record that Cross River was the first state in Nigeria to develop “Family Life HIV/AIDS Curriculum’’ in every school and students write examination on the subject.

“So in Cross River today, pupils and students in both primary and secondary schools discuss HIV/AIDS comfortably. And this has helped in reducing the spread of the virus,’’ she said.

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