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Gov. Says Fight Against HIV/AIDS Has Failed 

By Chris Mbunwe

Northwest Governor, Abakar Ahamat, who is the Chairman of the Northwest Regional AIDS Control Committee, has said the various forms employed by government and non-governmental institutions to stop the spread of the disease have failed. "Despite huge sums that the government has pumped into the fight against the spread of AIDS, there has been very little behaviourial change as the spread of the virus has not been reversed.

I am not satisfied that year in year out the campaign does not seem to yield the expected results which should drop the prevalence rate. I am of the opinion that we have to change the strategy. We cannot fight the disease by assembling at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue at every given opportunity to distribute condoms and do voluntary testing," said the Governor.

Abakar said the HIV/AIDS infection rate in the Northwest is still high and people are dying of the disease, as such new ways of combating the disease should be formulated. The Governor was speaking to the press shortly after presiding at the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial celebration recently at the  Franco-Cameroonian Alliance Hall Bamenda on the theme "Many Lights For Human Rights".

He lauded the efforts of the Cameroonians Association for Social Marketing abbreviated ACMS for ensuring that Cameroon joins the over 85 countries worldwide in celebrating International AIDS Candlelight memorial for those who died of the disease. Abakar said it is a moral obligation for Cameroonians to stamp out stigmatisation, ill treatment of infected persons and give them full support and comfort.

Representing the Executive Director of the Cameroonian Association for Social Marketing, the Chief of Department for HIV/AIDS, Annie Michele Salla Ndzie, stated that since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, joint United Nations   statistics reveal that nearly 60 million people have been infected with HIV and 25 million have died of HIV-related case.

In 2008, it was estimated that nearly two million people died of AIDS worldwide, about 33.4 million people were living with HIV and 2.7 million were newly infected. Still in 2008, UNAIDS reported that more than 500,000 people were living with HIV in Cameroon. This situation, according to Salla Ndzie, requires global action and community commitment to effectively stop the progressive of HIV to AIDS. 

As such, "the Candlelight Memorial ceremony that brings us together today, and which is initiated to honour the memory of those who have died of AIDS is the oldest community mobilization against AIDS in the world." Mrs. Ndzie said the theme of the Candlelight Memorial aims at strengthening action against stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. She recalled that ACMS joined the international initiative two years ago by holding the commemorative ceremony in the towns of Garoua in 2008 and Nkongsamba in 2009.

Earlier, the Regional Coordination of ACMS Northwest, Vitalis Tanteh, said the event brought together over 100 persons living with the disease not to remind them of imminent death, but to rekindle hope in them. One of those living with the disease, Stephen Waindim, expressed gratitude to ACMS for assuring them of life after infection. "Lectures today have proven to us that we can still make babies and have fun like others, while keeping to our treatment," Waindim said.

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