Akwa Ibom Leads Nigeria in HIV Prevalence, Traditional Rulers Urged to Join Fight

Akwa Ibom tackles HIV epidemic by engaging traditional leaders to drive awareness and behavior change in communities with high prevalence.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Akwa Ibom Leads Nigeria in HIV Prevalence, Traditional Rulers Urged to Join Fight

Akwa Ibom Leads Nigeria in HIV Prevalence, Traditional Rulers Urged to Join Fight

The Akwa Ibom State Agency for Control of AIDS (AKSACA) has called upon traditional rulers and community leaders to actively participate in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their communities. According to the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), Akwa Ibom has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country at 5.5%.

In an effort to empower traditional rulers and stakeholders, AKSACA, in collaboration with the Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), organized a sensitization workshop in Uyo senatorial district. The workshop aimed to equip community leaders with the knowledge and tools necessary to contribute to the goal of ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

Dr. Enobong Akpan, AKSACA's project manager, emphasized the vital role that community leaders play in effectively communicating accurate information about HIV/AIDS to their people. He urged the traditional rulers to discourage behaviors and practices that contribute to the transmission of the virus while promoting those that hinder its spread. The workshop also addressed issues such as stigma, discrimination, and harmful traditional practices associated with HIV/AIDS.

Professor Augustine Umoh, the Commissioner for Health, stressed the importance of implementing proactive measures in rural areas to enhance prevention, treatment, and reduce the stigma surrounding the disease. He called for extensive sensitization at the grassroots level to raise awareness and promote understanding.

Why this matters: The high HIV prevalence rate in Akwa Ibom underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts to combat the epidemic. Engaging traditional rulers and community leaders is a critical step in reaching rural populations and promoting behavior change to curb the spread of HIV.

During the interactive session, the traditional rulers acknowledged the necessity of prioritizing HIV/AIDS prevention in their communities. They also called for government regulation of traditional birth attendants in the state, recognizing their potential role in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. "We must work together to protect our people from this deadly virus," said one of the participating traditional rulers.

Key Takeaways

  • Akwa Ibom has the highest HIV prevalence in Nigeria at 5.5%.
  • AKSACA calls on traditional rulers to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
  • Workshop aims to equip community leaders with knowledge to end HIV by 2030.
  • Govt. urged to regulate traditional birth attendants to prevent mother-to-child HIV.
  • Engaging community leaders is critical to reach rural areas and promote behavior change.