Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Fight Against HIV/AIDS Must Continue 


By Carthia Ndingi Elangwe, *Stephanie Atem & Karis Okon 
 The Executive Secretary of African Synergy, Jean Stephane Biatcha, has reiterated that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not over, hence, efforts at preventing the virus or finding lasting solutions must continue.
Biatcha was speaking in Buea during the closing ceremony of the 12th edition of Holiday Campaign against HIV/AIDS, which had as theme “Youths, the Fight against AIDS Continues.”
According to a report on this year’s activity, 100 peer educators were divided into five groups and sent on a two-week sensitisation exercise, during which, 360 female condoms were distributed and 2,300 persons were counselled and tested; consisting 1,429 men and 292 women. A total of 41 people were tested, amongst them 22 men and 19 women, within the age group of 25-49 and 24-29 years, respectively. 
“Out of the 1,429 men, 23 tested positive giving a 1.5 percent prevalence rate and out of the 792 women, 19 were tested positive with a 2.5 percent prevalence rate. This shows a 1.6 percent prevalence rate higher than men, insinuating that females begin sexual activities earlier than men. The entire screening exercise was rated 97.5 percent as participants received results within 24 hours,” Biatcha stated.
Despite these efforts, he remarked that they faced a number of challenges including heavy rains, poor turnout, insufficient sensitisation materials and lack of male condoms.
Biatcha further emphasised on the ‘ABC’ of an AIDS-free generation with ‘A’ to mean Abstinence, ‘B’ as be committed to one partner and ‘C’, proper use of condoms.
He congratulated the peer educators for their relentless efforts which entailed travelling long distances to remote villages, despite the heavy rains, for sensitisation. For their efforts, the peer educators were given Certificates of Recognition together with school packages, food items from CERAC.
“The challenge is yours, the responsibility is yours, but the fight is ours,” Biatcha enthused.
The Mayor of Buea Council, Patrick Ekema Esunge, who attended the event, appreciated the tireless contributions of the First Lady towards the sensitisation of youths on HIV/AIDS. He averred that the prevalence rate in the Southwest Region is 3.3 percent with women being the most vulnerable group. Ekema said besides an AIDS-free campaign, other activities such as holiday jobs, scholarship programmes, provided by the Buea Council, also preoccupied youths during the holidays. 
Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, who officiated at the event, thanked Chantal Biya for such a laudable initiative, launched in 2003, with the main objective to raise awareness and reduce the risk of contamination among young people.
The occasion was animated by musician, Tata Kingue; singer, Abele Bille, an animation crew from Douala, Bayangi and Bakweri traditional dance groups.
* [UB Journalism Students on Internship]

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