Ahead of Valentine’s Day which will hold on Wednesday, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS has called on Nigerians especially youths not to engage in unprotected sex.
The DG of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, was quoted as saying this in a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the agency, Mrs. Toyin Aderibigbe.
Aliyu asked Nigerians to “share love and not HIV.”
The statement read in part, “This period is particularly noted for young people expressing their love for one another. This could lead to impulsive decisions such as unprotected sex resulting in unplanned pregnancies and an increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.
“The DG NACA urges Nigerians, especially the youths, to express love within the context of caring deeply for their loved ones and avoid risky behaviour that will make them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other STDs.”
Aliyu said couples should seize the opportunity to check their HIV status.
He said it was important that all Nigerians know their HIV status, as it marks the entry point to prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS.
“A young person not tested may not have the opportunity to enjoy future Valentine’s Days if he or she is diagnosed late or presents with terminal complications related to HIV infection and AIDS,” he said.
The NACA boss revealed that at least 15 per cent of Nigerian youths lose their virginity before the age of 15.
He said about 4.2 per cent of persons between the ages of 15 and 24 have HIV.
Aliyu therefore called on youths who cannot abstain from sex to use protection at all times.
The statement added, “The DG noted that first sexual contact in Nigeria begins at less than 15 years for 15 per cent of Nigeria’s youth. This, coupled with the practice of having multiple sexual partners increases HIV vulnerability among the youth population alongside the very low HIV testing rates – only 17 per cent of young people know their HIV status.
“The DG states that new HIV infections are currently highest among young people aged 15-24 years. It is important to reduce this worrying trend among Nigerian youths by encouraging faithful relationships for those who cannot abstain from sex, and the use of barrier protection such as condoms, which prevent STDs including HIV and unwanted pregnancies.”