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Over 500.000 Cameroonians Are Living With HIV/AIDS – Expert 

By Elvis Tah & Mimi Mefo*

An HIV/AIDS expert, Juliana Anchang, has stated that according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, epidemiological fact sheet of 2008, about 530.000 Cameroonians (5.5 percent) are living with HIV/AIDS.  She made the revelation on July, 15, during a seminar dubbed, Institutional HIV/AIDS Policy Student Workshop, which took place at the Pan-African Institute for Development, PAID-WA, Buea.

PAID-WA students listen to lecture on HIV/AIDS

According to Anchang, 45.000 (7 percent) of those living with HIV/AIDS are children from 0-14 years; 500.000 (93 percent) are adults from 15-49 years. She also noted that the female youth have a higher prevalence rate of 4.3 percent as opposed to 1.2 percent of their male counterparts. According to the expert, female youth are extremely vulnerable because of their subordinate status, their inability to negotiate for either ‘No Sex’ or ‘Safer Sexual’ practises. 

"In the year 2007, WHO reported that 39.000 Cameroonians died of HIV/AIDS," says Anchang.
Another resource person, Dr. Pascal Atanga Nji, Coordinator of the Regional Technical Group for the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, RTG, said, according to WHO, an infected person dies after approximately nine years without any anti-retroviral, ARV, treatment. "Treatment with ARV significantly improves the state of health of sero-positive patients and increases their life span, although it is not a cure," Dr. Atanga said. He also said that the risk of infecting others by an HIV patient who is receiving appropriate treatment is very low.

To Dr. Atanga, an AIDS patient will be obviously improved when he/she starts ARV and might be tempted to believe that he/she is well. But, according to him, the patient should note that the treatment should be ongoing no matter the condition of his/her health at any particular time.
On the importance of the workshop, Rosetta Thompson, PAID-WA Director, said the workshop was organised for PAID-WA students, staff and for other institutions. She said the idea was to validate HIV/AIDS institutional policies and sensitise the staff on how to prevent the deadly disease.

"As an organisation like PAID-WA, which is working for the community, it is very important that we have a kind of framework like this where we educate our staff and students on how to prevent HIV/AIDS as well as stemming stigmatisation of people living with the disease in our community," said Thompson.

Asked why they are focusing only on HIV/AIDS when there are other serious issues plaguing the youth, she said HIV/AIDS is a perennial problem. "We have been fighting against this disease since the 90s. Organising this seminar will help the students and staff to disseminate the information to the affected and infected persons," the Director said.

One of the participants, Besong Ndip, observed that the workshop greatly enriched him because, according to him, he realised that AIDS can be transmitted from an infected mother to a child during pregnancy and during delivery.  The seminar was coordinated by Dr. Ekema Anjorine.

* UB journalism Student On Internship

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