By Ajuma Edwina Ogiri
The overall prevalence rate of HIV in Akwa Ibom state has dropped to 2.8 per cent, according to the state AIDS Indicator Survey (AKAIS), released recently.
This is against the previously circulated figure of 10.8 per cent from a Sentinel study.
The study, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was a collaborative effort between the state government and USAID flagship HIV/AIDS and TB project – Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS), implemented by FHI 360.
In a report of the study, a population based cross-sectional survey was carried out across the 31 local government areas in the state, in a field work of the study, which took place between April and June 2017.
A total of 4,313 households were sampled, while 7,791 children and 9,145 adults totalling 16,936 people were tested for HIV.
The study also found that the HIV prevalence among children 0 to 14 years was 0.4 percent while the prevalence among persons 15 years and older was 4.8 per cent.
The study further revealed a 0.41 per cent annual incidence of HIV among adults between ages 15 years and older, as the number of new infections was said to be closely similar in females as in males; 0.41% among females and 0.42% among males.
However, the HIV incidence in ages 15-19 years was higher than the rest of the age groups; translating to nearly half of the new HIV infections occurring in the adult population.
Speaking during the unveiling of the findings of AKAIS, at the dissemination meeting of HIV/AIDS stakeholders in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, acknowledged the funding from USAID through the SIDHAS project in the implementation of AKAIS and reiterated that the survey presents an opportunity for the state to more accurately estimate the current HIV/AIDS prevalence and incidence and better guide the HIV/AIDS response.
He urged all stakeholders to use the findings of the survey for planning future programs for HIV control in Akwa Ibom state.
In his remarks, FHI 360 Country Director, Dr. Robert Chiegil, said the survey has brought a lot of benefits to the state, including the economic benefits to the over 1,500 persons involved in the survey, adding that the current availability of key survey resource persons was due to the capacity building that was a part of the process.
The representative of the Federal Ministry of Health said the AKAIS was “well-timed” to provide information that would guide program implementation in the state.
She noted that Akwa Ibom state is a pacesetter state, being one of the first states to conduct the AIDS Indicator Survey in Nigeria and the first to have its findings disseminated.
In her remarks, the representative of the USAID Mission Director, Deputy Office Director, Office of HIV/AIDS & TB, USAID, Kelly Badiane, said the U.S. Government support to the HIV/AIDS response in the state was in line with the new U.S. President’s Emergency Response Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) paradigm of “doing the Right Things, in the Right Places at the Right Time.”