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HIV/AIDS Prevalence Drops In Southwest 

CameroonPostline.com — The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has reduced from 8.7 percent in 2004, to 5.7 percent in 2011 in the Southwest Region, Dr. Pascal Nji Atanga has said.

The Regional Technical Group Coordinator disclosed this during the launching of the 10th edition of AIDS FREE HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN at the Cameroon Cultural Centre in Buea, July 19.

Following the demographic health survey of 2011 for the Southwest Region, Dr. Pascal Atanga said the Regional prevalence stands at 5.7 percent with 7.9 percent for women and 3.3 percent for men.

Amongst 715 youths aged 15 to 29 years tested during the 2011 Aids Free Holiday Campaign, 25 were found to be HIV-positive, giving an overall positive rate in this age bracket of 3.5 percent.

Disintegrating this by sex; out of 409 males tested, 12 were positive giving it a positive rate of 2.9 percent, while 306 females tested, 13 were positive, giving it a positive rate of 4.2 percent, making it two times in females than in males.

Thus, to Dr. Atanga, the campaign over the years gives some hope and is producing the required results.

Focusing on this year’s campaign entitled “Knowing my HIV Status Is a Real Necessity for My Health,” 50 peer educators (youths) who passed a knowledge test, were trained and provided with sensitisation materials.

They will carry out the sensitisation exercise in the Region spanning Buea, Limbe, Tiko, Mutengene and Ekona.

As for the rural areas, The Post learnt that the District Hospitals have been authorised by the Regional Delegate for Public Health to install free HIV counselling units for all.

“This year’s campaign targets at least 10.000 and 20.000 youths to be sensitised and screened respectively within three weeks, in the Region,” Atanga explained.

While launching the AIDS FREE HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN, the Southwest Governor’s representative, Julius Tata, exhorted all present as he said; “you must spread the message and not the virus, working hand in gloves with the Government to fight against this most serious economic and developmental challenge of the 21st century.”

Mostly addressing female youths, Mrs. Elisabeth Lifongo, Deputy Mayor of Buea, urged them to avoid unprotected sex for money, so as to curb AIDS which she described as a current third world war.

A free screening exercise was carried out to mark the start of campaign activities accompanied by a sketch played by students on holiday, explaining the need for knowing one’s HIV status.

The use of the condom was also demonstrated by peer educators.

Meantime, the campaign is an initiative of the National AIDS Control Committee (NACC) and its partners, headed by Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda.

The campaign is sponsored by First Lady, Chantal Biya and is aimed at sensitising youths during holidays, mobilising them through their peers to help them adopt acceptable behaviours which prevent STIs, HIV and unwanted pregnancies.

By Mildred Enayeh & Asue Asue Esaka (National Polytechnic Bambui Journalism Students On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no. 01361

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