BY PETER DURU
MAKURDI -The United Nation Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has decried the alarming prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Benue State which is said to be the highest in the country.
The National HIV Sentinel Report put the prevalence at 12.4 per cent; which is far above the national average of a little above 4 per cent.
Dr. Femi Adeyemi, a HIV Specialist (Care), UNICEF A-Field Office, Enugu, said this in Makurdi.
In a paper, entitled; ”An AIDS-Free Generation is Possible Through Elimination of Mother-To-Child-Transmission”, during a quarterly media breakfast meeting with newsmen, Adeyemi said UNICEF was surprised at the rate the virus was spreading in the rural communities of the Middle Belt region in the country.
Adeyemi said that the virus was attacking more victims in the rural communities of the state; as against known trends of high infestation rates in urban centres.
He noted that the prevalence of the pandemic in 10 states under the Field-A office was higher than the national average which, according to him, called for concerted effort on the part of governments and stakeholders to bring down the rate of spread of the virus.
The HIV specialist regretted that the rate of transmission of the virus through mother-to-children was to a large extent aiding the spread of the disease and hampering the fight against the scourges in the country.
“We must all stand up against the challenge posed by the virus today because it is a fight we cannot afford to lose”, he said.
Earlier, in his opening remark, the Head of the UNICEF A-Field Office, Mr. Charles Nzuki, noted that “though the prevalence rates have shown a slight reduction, it is also worrisome to note that states covered by UNICEF A-field Office have very high prevalence rates than the national rates.”