The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu has advised Nigerians particularly young people to seize the opportunity of the Valentine Day to know their HIV status and shun risky behaviours.
He gave the advice in his message to mark this year’s Valentine Day.
He said young people often engage in risky behaviours such as unprotected sex on Valentine Day which often leads to unwanted pregnancies and increased risk of HIV transmission.
He said: “Valentine’s Day is a day dedicated to love, to show love to the people around you. It is mostly a romantic holiday, so couples and would-be couples celebrate this day in a variety of ways.
“However, this period witnesses a lot of young people showing love in risky ways. Many impulsive decisions are made in the heat of the moment such as unprotected sex which often leads to unwanted pregnancies and increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.”
Dr Aliyu also decried the risk associated with having multiple sexual partners as it increases vulnerability among the youth population to HIV.
Quoting UNAIDS he said, “The difference in HIV prevalence between women and men is greatest among younger adults, with young women aged 20-24 years more than three times as likely to be living with HIV as young men in the same age group. Among children aged 0-14 years, HIV prevalence is 0.2%.”
He said that helping to achieve a country free of HIV is the greatest show of love towards fellow Nigerians , adding that the goal of NACA remains to scale up community efforts to provide national access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.
“Celebrate Valentine’s Day by knowing your HIV status. Love wisely, share love not HIV,” he said.