As the world marks Valentine’s Day, Director-General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, has urged Nigerians, especially young people, to take advantage of the spirit of love and togetherness that the celebration signifies, to know their Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) status.
“It is important that all Nigerians know their HIV status, as it marks the entry point to prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS,” Aliyu said in a statement issued yesterday by Head, Public Relations and Protocol, Toyin Aderibigbe.
Owing to some pervasive behaviours by young people, especially in this part of the world, the NACA boss advised Nigerians to express love within the context of caring deeply for their loved ones with intention to protect them from all forms of harm and avoiding risk factors that could make them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
His words: “As we express love for our partners during this Valentine’s Day, remember to love wisely.
“As members of a wider society, your health and productivity count to both your nuclear, extended families and the entire country.
“Nigeria stands to benefit from the pool of your contributions. So I urge you to desist from practices that might expose you to risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and/or other STDs as we commemorate these special days. Once again, I urge you to love wisely, share love and not the virus.”
The DG reiterated: “It is important to reduce the trend of new HIV infection in Nigerian youths through preaching abstinence and for those who cannot abstain, to use condom which prevents STDs, including HIV and unwanted pregnancies. It has become important to ensure condom option is made available as a preventive measure to youths and people of reproductive age, who cannot abstain from sex, with new HIV infections highest among young people aged 15 to 24 years and with the national data suggesting that about 4.2 per cent of young people (ages 15-24) are living with HIV.”