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World AIDS Day; CRSG Intensifies The Fight Against HIV/AIDS

By Ntem Chris!

The global HIV response is in danger, even as HIV remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Over the last few years progress towards HIV goals has stalled, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result. But the government of Cross River State under the leadership of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade who through the Director General of the State’s Agency for the Control of AIDS Dr. Etcheri Ansa has continued to intensify the fight against HIV/AIDS.

To mark this year’s World AIDS Day, the Director General of the State Agency for the Control of AIDS Dr. Etcheri-Ella Ansa in her Goodwill message called on Cross Riverians to prioritize living a healthy life and ensuring that they follow all the laid down rules that guides one from contracting the virus which is not a death sentence as has always been perceived by many.

In her words; “As we know, the World AIDS Day is an annual globally celebrated event marked every 1st of December to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show our support for people living with HIV/AIDS and to remember those who have died from HIV/AIDS related illnesses. With this year’s theme “EQUALIZE TO END AIDS” which is a call to action. By this theme we should understand that issues of inequalities exist in HIV/AIDS services which has inevitably contributed to the AIDS pandemic worldwide, but we can tackle some of these inequalities running from inadequate availability of quality and suitable services for HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, treatment and prevention for everyone, laws, practices and policies such as stigmatization and exclusions faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, poor sharing technology for equal access to HIV/AIDS sciences in communities, amongst others.

In pandemics, inequalities exist and posses dangers to everyone and AIDS can only end when we join hands to tackle this inequalities of economic, social, cultural and legal issues as a matter of urgency. Let me end by thanking the administration of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade, the Deputy Governor of our dear State Prof. Ivara Esu, the CRSMOH, CRSPHCDA, SACA staff, our amiable and ever committed implementing partners and the entire Cross Riverians for the unflinching support accorded me and the Agency all through my administration as this is my last World AIDS Day celebration as Director General of this noble Agency. We call on everyone to come together so we can end stigmatization and work in synergy to enable us reduce our HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in our State from 2% to zero.”

To mark this year's World Hiv/AIDS Day, the Director General of the State Agency for the Control of AIDS Dr. Etcheri-Ella

On his part, the Permanent Secretary of the Cross River State Ministry of Health Dr. Iwara Iwara reassured Cross Riverians and SACA of the Ministry’s commitment to continue to support the activities of the Agency and to ensure that they all work together to see how the prevalence rate can be further reduced. “Cross Riverians must abstain from unprotected sex and subject themselves to regular testing because to know the solution of a problem you must first know the cause of that problem. The theme “Equalize” is a call to action. It is a call to action for all of us to pursue the tried-and-true methods required to redress disparities and aid in the eradication of AIDS.”

Also speaking, the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency Dr. Janet Ekpenyong charged Cross Riverians to cease stigmatization and be reminded that HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence as with the religious/regular intake of the drugs one can live for as long as possible. She called for the need to improve HIV/AIDS services in the State. “To ensure that everyone is well-served, increase the availability, quality, and acceptability of services for HIV/AIDS treatment, testing, and prevention. To combat the prejudice and isolation suffered by people who are HIV-positive and by important and disadvantaged communities, reform laws, policies, and practices. This will ensure that everyone is respected and accepted.”

Highlight of the event was a health walk from Rabana Roundabout to Calabar Municipality garden and cutting of ribon by the Permanent Secretary of the CRSMOH, Goodwill messages from implementing partners, distribution of condoms and other HIV/AIDS materials, presentation of awards, amongst other activities to mark this year’s celebration.

World AIDS Day is significant because it serves as a reminder to the public and the government that HIV/AIDS is still a serious problem that requires urgent funding, more awareness, the eradication of prejudice, and improved educational opportunities.

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