According to the Akwa Ibom state Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA), 51.6% of married couples are HIV positive while 4% of prostitutes in the state are HIV Positive.
The Programme manager of the agency, Dr. Nkereuwem Etok, in an interactive session with journalists yesterday, said most couples engage themselves in unprotected sex outside their marital home which makes them more susceptible to the virus.
“We have areas of high prevalence, before the statistics started coming we were sure that the most-at risk population will be the commercial sex workers, we were sure that this group will be the most affected but our data showed surprisingly that married men and women are the highest HIV infections with 51.6 percent.
“The commercial sex workers recorded only 4 percent while those engaged in casual sex recorded second highest with 30 percent’’ he said.
Etok attributed the high prevalence rate among the couples to include denial the existence of HIV/AIDS virus and the fact that most of them engage in sex not minding the status of the other sex partners.
According to him people are still tied to the culture of marrying widows without minding what killed their husbands He identified another group which comprises businessmen and women and government who attend seminars and workshops within and outside the country with their concubines.
Etok called on residents in the state to make themselves available for testing which he said are carried out free of charge in designated place across the state.
He said his agency has recorded significant achievements in the second sphere of the World Bank HIV/AID assisted programme which ended on February 26, 2017.
Overview of HIVA/AIDS Epidemic in Akwa Ibom State
The first case of HIV infection in Akwa Ibom state was reported in 1989. Since then, the epidemic has expanded rapidly.
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH)/ HIV and AIDS sentinel sero-prevalence studies conducted show the following rates: 12.7% (1999), 10.7% (2001), 7.2% (2003), 8.0% (2005), 9.7% (,2008) and 10.9% (2010) .
Estimates using the 2010 HIV/AIDS sero-prevalence sentinel survey among women attending antenatal clinics indicate that about 275,250 people may be living with the virus, that means, about 2 in 10 persons in the state is infected with HIV.
The prevalence and new infections continue to be high especially among young people aged 15-24 in spite of interventions by government and partners.
The current HIV prevalence among antenatal attendees in Akwa Ibom State with 10.9% (FMOH, ANC 2010) ranks her second highest in the country and confirms HIV and AIDS as a major health problem in the state.