Dr Sani Aliyu, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) on Wednesday urged youths to play safe and stay protected while celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Aliyu made the call at the commemoration of 2018 World Condom Day in conjunction with Valentine’s Day celebration in Abuja.
He also enjoined youths to get tested and know their HIV status.
He said it was important for youths in the country to play safe and stay protected during this season of Valentine to arrest the transmission of new HIV infection.
“It is important for our youths to stay protected, HIV is still much around and the best way for them to protect themselves from HIV is through abstinence.
“However, if they cannot abstain from sex, then they have to use a barrier protection. Yesterday and today is an opportunity for everyone to get tested of HIV.
“All youths should get tested to know their status; it is very easy and not painful.
“Persons who test positive will be placed on medication that will help them live a normal and healthy life, while those negative should take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones,’’ Aliyu said.
Dr Greg Abiaziem, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Acting Country Programme Manager, said the event was targeted at increasing awareness and promoting the prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
“Others include safer sex, condom use and its role in preventing HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
“It is important to ensure that condom option was made available as preventive measure to youths who can’t abstain from sex as new HIV infections highest among young people is from 15 years to 24 years,’’ he said.
Abiaziem added that those who cannot abstain should use condom as it would prevent STDs, including HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
“The national health survey data suggests that about 4.2 per cent of young people 15 to 24 years are living with HIV.
“However, AHF is distributing about 300,000 condoms and test no fewer than 43,000 persons of HIV to commemorate World Condom Day in Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Kogi, Nasarawa and Abuja,’’ Abiaziem said.
AHF is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organisation in the world that provides medical care to over 855,000 clients in 39 countries.
AHF Nigeria has been operating in the country since 2011 and has its presence in six states.
The NGO, in collaboration with NACA, celebrated the World condom day, a global event which held on Feb. 13, in conjunction with Valentine’s Day.
The theme for 2018 World Condom Day is “Always in Fashion’’. (NAN)