About 65,185 persons in Akwa Ibom State are living with HIV/AIDS. This is according to a survey conducted by an NGO, Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS).
The health charity arrived at the result following a concurrent ten year testing and counselling in 21 local government Areas of the state.
The Deputy Director Technical, SIDHAS, Dr Pius Nwaokoro who revealed the details of the survey in Uyo said Akwa Ibom State has achieved 90% viral load suppression, while about 90% of patients are also religiously taking their drugs.
He said those in this category can no longer transmit the virus.
Dr. Nwaokoro noted that the NGO works with patent medicine dealers in the rural areas, Traditional Birth Attendants, community leaders in providing HIV services such as identification of infected persons and Index Case Testing in the villages.
His words, “since April 2019, SIDHAS has carried out HIV tests on 1,355,203 persons within the state including people in rural areas while 65,185 persons test positive for HIV.
“SIDHAS has achieved epidemic control in seven local governments of the state including Uyo, Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno. To enhance drug distribution to people in the hinterlands, the organization has employed the services of Patent Medicine Dealers to assist in the distribution of drugs to HIV positive patients.”
Also speaking the Akwa Ibom Project Director, Family Health Insurance 360, Dr. Kolawole Olatunbosun disclosed that research is ongoing to see how HIV/AIDs patients can take their tablets once per week or per month for treatment.
He urged the media to intensify campaigns in enlightening the people that testing and treatment of HIV and AIDs is free.
Earlier, the Project Manager, AKSACA, Dr Igbemi Arthur thanked their partners for their contributions in curbing HIV in the State and appealed to journalists to report issues on HIV/AIDS with available facts as HIV was not a death sentence.
He noted that the state has made remarkable progress in reducing the spread of the virus since the prevalence rate in the state still remains at 5.5% based on the NHAIS rating of 2018, the percentage has reduced from the previously 10.8%.