By Benson Ezugwu
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River says the only way to end the HIV scourge in Nigeria is for married couples to remain faithful to their partners while young people abstain from sex.
Ayade said this on Thursday in Calabar at the commemoration of the 2016 World AIDS Day celebration.
He said: “The absolute factor that can put an end to HIV/AIDS spread is total loyalty and abstinence.
“ Married couples must be faithful to their partners.
“Young people must remain virgins until they get married and never allow any barber to use unsterilised clipper to barb your hair.
“Whatever the story, AIDS is real, it is a scourge, you must avoid it,’’ the governor said.
According to Ayade, the time has come to teach young people true African culture where sex before marriage is a taboo.
He described the usage of condom `campaign’ as creating a false feeling of protection, adding that the use of condom had not helped in stopping the scourge.
“Rather, it increases the level of promiscuity among the younger generation and encouraged unfaithfulness,’’ he added.
He said that the state government would do everything within its power to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Cross River.
In her remarks, Dr Rose Nyambi, the Director-General of the State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA) disclosed that no fewer than 164, 267 people were currently living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
She said of the number was made up of 103,000 females and 61,627 males.
Nyambi said the figure, which represented a 6.6 per cent prevalent rate, put the state on the fifth position in Nigeria.
According to her, Cross River has a mixed epidemic which shows that the prevalence among the general population and key population is high.
Nyambi also said that the state had the highest rate of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) in Nigeria.
She stated that this was achieved through various government policies and programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention.
The director general, however, lamented the exit of donor partners, describing the development as creating an extra burden on the state government.
“It is quite disheartening to inform you that donors and most implementing partners are exiting and this places a huge burden on the state government to sustain and take ownership of the response,’’ she said.
She said that the theme of this year’s campaign “Hands on for HIV prevention,’’ was in accordance with the global focus targeted toward eliminating new HIV infections through scale up interventions.
In a goodwill message, Dr Kenneth Ehouzou representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed the need for all stakeholders to partner in the efforts to end the spread of HIV/AIDS.
He disclosed that the UNFPA was organising a month long campaign against the spread of HIV in the state tagged: “Wise up Cross River.’’
Ehouzou said the campaign would take place at the Calabar Christmas Village with the youth population as its main target.