Akwa Ibom Cheerleaders

Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impart Survey (NAILS) has placed Akwa Ibom State as having the highest prevalence number in the country.

The figures indicate that about 5.5 percent of the people living with HIV in Nigeria are in Akwa Ibom State, followed by Benue State, which has about 5.3 percent prevalence rate, according to the findings of the survey released on March 14, in Abuja.

But the  Akwa Ibom government has attributed the high rate of HIV/AIDS in the state to the influx of visitors.

Few days after the release of the NAIIS survey findings, the health commissioner in Akwa Ibom, Dominic Ukpong, briefed reporters in Uyo on the state government reaction to the survey findings.

“All these are not without attendant public health consequences, like transmission of communicable diseases which HIV/AIDS cannot be excluded.”

Mr. Ukpong said the state government and its health partners, with funding from USAID, carried out a similar survey – Akwa Ibom AIDS Indicator Survey (AKAIS) – in 2017.

“The result as disseminated in November 2017 showed a prevalence of 4.8% for the age group 15 to 69 years.

Prostitutes as HIV Carriers

“Statistically this two results 5.5% (2018) and 4.8% (2017) for NAIIS and AKAIS respectively are within the same 95% confidence interval ranging from 4.7 to 6.3 percent”.

The health commissioner said the HIV prevalence in the state was on the decline.

“The last nationally accepted HIV survey, prior to the NAIIS survey in 2018 was the ANC SENTINEL study in 2014 and the National prevalence was 3%, while Akwa Ibom State prevalence was 10.8%.

“Arguably as it is being reported that the national prevalence has dropped from 3% (2014) to 1.4% (2018), similarly that of Akwa Ibom State has dropped from 10.8% (2014) to 5.5% (2018),” the commissioner said.

He said the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, is committed to the health and wellbeing of the people.

The commissioner listed out immediate measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the state as follows:

* Increasing access to HIV testing services, by providing enough rapid test kits whereby all primary health centres and secondary health facilities in the state will be able to provide free HIV testing services to its citizens.

* Strategising for effective intervention among drivers of new infections namely young adult females and members of the key population, by designing interventions that are gender and youth-friendly.

Also, among the long term measures, the commissioner said the government would push for legislation in the state that would protect people living with HIV and also end stigmatization and discrimination.