Governor Gabriel Torwua Suswam
George Okoh â€¨
The Executive Secretary of the Benue State Action Committee against Aids (BENSACA), Mrs. Ashi Wende, has disclosed that over 319,000 children are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
Wende who disclosed this Thursday at a one-day training of media practitioners on HIV/AIDS in Makurdi, disclosed further that "over 708,640 adults are also living with the virus in the state."
She explained that out of the number of the infected adults, 21,259 were new cases, adding that of this number, 17,139 women were found positive.
According to her, "the HIV epidemic has reached the third decade with Benue contributing significantly to the prevalence of the virus in Nigeria.
"After the first case was reported in 1986, the state's prevalence rose from 1.8 per cent in 1991 to 16.8 per cent in 1999.
"Two drops were recorded in 2001 (13.5 per cent) and 2003 (9.3 per cent). But an upward trend has been recorded since 2005; there is therefore a heightened need for scale-up of effective and efficient HIV prevention efforts in the state."
The Executive Secretary explained that the state government was taking proactive steps to check the spread of the virus in the state with the establishment of 40 treatment centres across the state.
"We have the highest number of treatment centres that are providing free anti-retroviral drugs to infected persons in the country; and we have drugs that could last up to 2015; that is why we are urging everyone to undertake free testing and counselling in order to know our status and check the spread of the virus," Wende stressed.