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Play Safe, Avoid The HIV Shock- Health Minister 

By Yvette Nkemji*

CameroonPostline.com — Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, has advised students on holidays to play safe by avoiding risky behaviour that would expose them to HIV/AIDS.

The Minister made this cautionary remark while launching the 10th edition of AIDS-Free Holiday Campaign, July 12, in Yaounde. He called on the youth, especially girls, to shun unprotected sex in order to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Mama Fouda reminded them to stay faithful to their partners or use condoms and avoid the shock of contracting the deadly virus. The campaign, which is an initiative of First Lady, Chantal Biya, was created in 2003. The theme for this year’s edition, “Knowing My Serological Status, A Necessity for My Health”, is aimed at reducing the upsurge of HIV/AIDS amongst youth during the long vacation.

The Ministry of Public Health and other stakeholders organised the campaign in partnership with the African Synergy. According to officials, the campaign, which spans three weeks, will be launched in all the ten regions of Cameroon.

The objective of the campaign, The Post learnt, is to sensitise and educate at least 800.000 youth on HIV/AIDS and to ensure free screening to at least 40.000 young people. Going by statistics made available by Dr. Jean Siege Ndongo, Cameroon has 4.3 percent of HIV/ AIDS infected persons.

Despite the 1.2 percent drop registered since 2004, the South and Centre remain the most affected with a rate of 7.2 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. It was revealed that youth between 15-25 years are mostly infected. Women are said to be hard-hit with an infection rate of 5.6 percent while men have 2.9 percent.

Eric Fokunang Baaboh, President of the National Association of Tradi-practitioners, explained to The Post that, “the reason for this increase in women is that the female genital system is more vulnerable, since sperms stay in the woman for long. He said the man can be safe from contracting the virus, if he washes up immediately after having unprotected sex.

However, medics disagree outrightly with this claim, insisting that prevention is better than cure.
The Ministry has thus, provided about 300 professional centres and 4.000 educational peers distributed all over the country to sensitise, organise free screening services and carry out blood donation.

Mama Fouda, who is also the President of the National AIDS Control Committee, handed a consignment of 200.000 condoms to Mrs.  Victorine Wena, an inspector in the Ministry of Higher Education, to enable the authorities to fight against the rampaging spread of the pandemic on campuses. The Minister of Youth and Civic Education, Bidoung Mkpatt called on the 2000 youth who were assembled at the Yaounde Conference Centre to maintain abstinence and to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

*(Siantou University Complex Journalism Student On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no. 01360

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