The HIV toll in the North West Region has witnessed a significant decrease. Prevalence stands at 4 percent in 2019 from 6.3 percent in 2011, says the Secretary General in the North West Governor’s Office, Harry Ngwanyi Lanyuy, alluding to the 2019 Health and Demographic Survey. Of the 4 percent prevalence, 5.8 percent are females and 1.6 percent males of 15-49 years, he specified. The 2.3 percent drop between 2011 and 2019 is attributed to sustained health campaigns, the placing of persons living with HIV on anti retroviral therapy, going by the North West Delegate of Public Health, Dr. Kingsley Che. Both officials made the disclosures during the launch of the 2019 AIDS Free Holidays in Bamenda over the weekend.
The target for treatment by December 2019, according to the Regional Delegate of Public Health, is 38,067 persons living with HIV. There are currently 64,201 persons living with HIV in the region; 33,391 have been placed on treatment by June this year. The goal of the annual campaigns just as it was 17 years ago when the AIDS Free Holidays programme started is to eliminate HIV as a public health problem by 2030 by helping at least 90 per cent of persons living with HIV know their HIV status, place at least 90 per cent of persons living with HIV on treatment and causing viral suppression in at least 90 per cent of those on anti retroviral therapy.
This year, 117 youth peer educators were trained in Bamenda. They were given key messages on HIV to disseminate upon return to their council areas and communities through interpersonal and mass communication. They are taking along messages of abstinence, avoiding sharing sharp objects, the importance of screening once in every three month and treatment where necessary, as well as getting more advice by clicking on « HIV Testing. » Efforts to improve on care are, however, affected by failure to pick up treatment due to the displacement of persons living with HIV on treatment, within the region and to other regions. This year’s AIDS free holidays campaign in the region as usual while offering interventions to the general population is targeting the youths. Antiretroviral treatment is free of charge and if ever tested positive for HIV it is time to go for treatment