NACA urges Nigerians to get HIV test, stay safe today

Director General National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu (left), conducting a HIV test on Queen Rita Chinedu, Miss Health Nigeria at the Valentine’ and Condom’s Day Programme held in Abuja

• Foundation distributes 12 million free condoms in Nigeria in five years

As part of efforts to prevent new Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) infections and reverse the spread of the disease in the country, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has encouraged Nigerians to avoid engaging in risky behavior, especially during Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, in a statement yesterday said this season of affection is to share and show love responsibly and by so doing Nigerians can halt and reverse the spread of HIV in Nigeria.

Aliyu said: “Beyond the sweet words and exchange of gifts, it is important that young people in particular are equipped with all the information they need to ensure that Valentine’s Day is celebrated by showing love to those we care about in a safe and responsible manner. As we celebrate love, we should remember that safe sex is not just about protecting ourselves, but also protecting those we love.”

He added: “This is a special day for love. In the process of loving, love carefully, play safe and be faithful to your partner. If you are young and not sexually active yet, abstaining from sex will keep you safe from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, otherwise protect yourself by using a condom at all times.

“Above all, you should know your HIV status. If you do happen to carry the virus, we can give you treatment that will keep you healthy and stop you from spreading the virus to your loved one. So get a HIV test today and stay safe on Valentine’s Day.’’

Also speaking, Country Director AHF D. Adetayo Towolawi noted that condom plays an important role in the control of the spread of HIV/AIDS adding that the foundation distributes about 2million condoms free to Nigerians annually and provides free HIV test to Nigerians.

In his remarks, State Coordinator of AHF, Dr Kema Onu observed that the foundation is not preaching sex but trying to say that abstinence is the most effective way of preventing HIV/AIDS but condom is the most realistic way to prevent HIV. “We are being realistic in the face of the epidemic we are facing in the country; we are being realistic in the face of high AIDS related deaths we are facing in the country”.

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