By Solomon Ayado
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Benue State AIDS Control Agency (BenSACA) has embarked on sensitisation, awareness creation, distribution of condoms and free HIV Testing Services (HTS) in major Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Guma and Makurdi Local Government Areas of Benue State.
This is coming just as preparedness for the World AIDS Day which is celebrated annually on December 1st, across the globe, has kick-started in the agrarian state.
The UNFPA and BenSACA are pushing to ensure that the new HIV infections are controlled and or prevented to further avert the dangerous spread of the scourge.
The Executive Secretary of BenSACA, Dr Ephraim Tyo explained that the exercise was free and targeted at making the vulnerable IDPs have better understanding on how to prevent infections.
A team of medical personnel comprising relevant NGOs was in the IDPs camps at Uikpiam and Daudu, all in Guma LGA, to offer free HIV testing to the displaced persons.
According to the Program Manager, National Youth Network on HIV/AIDS Population Development, Mr Pius Peter, a member of the team, who was on the exercise, said “the programme does not have specific target group in the camp, it was for both young and old.
He noted that in the camps, everybody is vulnerable but “laying more emphasis on the young.”
“Like today, we have recorded new cases in which by tomorrow, they will be enrolled for treatment and care and we have also discovered that some women have sexually transmitted Infections, STIs that have not been treated which will also be given attention to, and all these are done at zero cost,” he said.
Also, Mr Kenneth Vembe of Make We Talk Community Empowerment Initiative explained that the programme is very important because as the world is heading towards epidemic control of HIV, there was need to understand that there were certain tools that are not just for HIV alone, like the condoms which, he said, are very important as dual contraceptives for child spacing.
“It is gladdening that this programme is carried out in the IDP camps where they do not have control or guidance on sexual intercourse which, will give them more options of spacing their children and it will help reduce the high number of teenage pregnancies in these camps,” he stated.
Speaking to The Voice, an IDP, who simply gave his name as Mary said they were very happy with the exercise because it has given them opportunity to know about how to prevent STI infections.
“I am happy and all of us are happy because this exercise has made us to understand better ways of preventing HIV and STI infections, and how to use condom to prevent unplanned pregnancies,” she stated.