Rivers State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Mr. Oliver M. Wolugbom has said that the Board of the Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA) is very much concerned with the in-depth appraisal of the current HIV/AIDS situation in the state. He said the body is also worried about the consequences of the epidemic on the indigenes and the impact on the economy of the state.
Wolugbom noted during a retreat held recently by RIVSACA that Rivers State is among the states in the country which jointly carries 70% of the HIV burden of the country, noting that if “we can drastically reduce the problem of HIV in the state, Nigeria will be on track to achieving zero HIV related death.
The Director observed that the infection rate in some local government areas is as high as 20 to 25% among them are female sex workers and men who have sex with their fellow men.
He said that a lot youths in and out of school indulge in very high sexual risk behaviours and keeping of multiple sexual partners is common among young people which are contributory factor to the high rate of infection. To this end, this scourge, he said the RIVSACA has come up with strategy to strengthen and reposition the board and the agency to more aggressively address the HIV problem in all communities in the state by mapping out all hotspots where men and women sex workers and intravenous drug users allegedly operate. “These include brothels, short time houses, hotels, bars night clubs, street corners and cells in order to reach the people with high quality prevention treatment services to reduce movement of infection from them to the public.
Other plans set out by the RIVSACA is the conduct of state sentinel survey to properly estimate the current level of the infection and a survey of orphans and vulnerable children in all the 23 local government areas which has been estimated to cost over N100billion.
While commending governor Chibuike Amaechi for lending helping hands by funding and providing leadership to HIV/AIDS control, he called on all companies operating in the state, traditional rulers, LGA, Chairmen, Community Development Committees and religious leaders to join the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS in their communities in the state. ###