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Bamenda Pregnant Women, Sex Hawkers Top HIV Infected Chart 

By Chris Mbunwe

Northwest Regional Technical Coordinator for the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Gladys Tayong, has disclosed that the prevalence rate of the pandemic amongst pregnant women and commercial sex hawkers in Bamenda and other towns across the Region is the highest in Cameroon.

RTG Coordinator NW, CBC Director and Journalists

"It is regrettable that our Region is still topping the chart with this dangerous disease that has no cure. Out of 100 persons, six tested at random are infected with the HIV and out of 100 women, eight are living with HIV.

Of recent, in 2009, out of about 100 commercial sex hawkers, 36 tested positive and this is a serious matter that should be the concern of all sectors," Dr. Tanyong noted. She was speaking during a two-day training workshop for Northwest journalists organised by the Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC, Health Department of AIDS Care and Prevention, ACP, at Nkwen from June 21-22.

She expressed her gratitude to the CBC Health Department for such initiative, and promised her full collaboration. Dr. Mrs. Tayong blamed the widespread of HIV in the Region on many factors which include; multiple sex partners, low self esteem of Northwest women who easily give in to sex, low use of condoms, stigmatisation, poverty and lack of industries.

"Since this region has no industries, so many people rush to the coastal regions and only return with the virus looking so lean and, for fear of stigmatisation, they start talking of slow poison and would not accept to be put on treatment immediately," she said. On behalf of the organisers of the workshop, the Director of CBC Health Services, Prof. Pius Tih said the objective was to let journalists be able to inform and educate Cameroonians on HIV/AIDS pandemic.

"If you must educate well, you must be well informed to do so, else, we continue to churn-out dangerous information about HIV/AIDS without the basic knowledge. Because of few francs, radio, TV and newspapers carry or run announcements on the cure of HIV/AIDS when there is no such thing yet. Instead, you want the infected patients to abandon modern treatment to quack traditional healers," he averred.

He said if sometime ago, President Biya requested Cameroonians to read newspapers, listen to radio, it is because the President was aware that the press can inform the population accurately, not for the press to sing how a cure has been found for HIV/AIDS, without scientific proof.

"This is the more reason why the ACP department of the CBC has decided to empower journalists so that you can replicate the knowledge gained at this workshop and properly educate the dying population," Prof. Tih explained.

Journalists were drilled on; Basics of HIV/AIDS, Gender/age and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, Care of people living with HIV; Universal precaution, Importance of HIV counselling and testing, Behaviour change communication, Stigma and discrimination, Domestic violence and HIV/AIDS reporting.

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