By Baraka John
The State AIDS Commission in partnership with ICAP had begun sensitizing school children in Yambio as part of its focus to reducing HIV prevalence in the State.
Western Equatoria and Lakes states were leading in HIV prevalence among women in the country, according to a report by the Ministry of Health in 2020.
Kenyi Alex, the State acting AIDS Commission chairperson, while addressing pupils at Gracia Nursery and primary school on Wednesday said that the awareness campaign targeted both secondary and primary schools in Yambio and the other nine Counties of the State.
“The aim of the awareness is to ensure school children have basic concept on HIV prevention. We have so far visited eight out of the ten counties in the state with HIV awareness to the community, Church and youth leaders imparting to them the knowledge of prevention and educating their fellow community members,” Alex stated.
“We are going to tour all the schools in Yambio County including schools in Nzara County to continue creating awareness to our future generation on the danger and spread of the deadly HIV virus. You know our State is leading in the Country with HIV high prevalence, so it’s time to educate our young ones to be careful with the spread of the virus,” he added.
MeanwhileSantino David Tambua, former MP at the then Gbudue State Legislative Assembly as well a member of the State AIDS commission, said HIV was real, therefore it was paramount to sensitize school children on how to protect themselves against contracting HIV and to participate in the reduction campaign in the Country.
“The aim is to make our school children grow with that knowledge of this disease in Western Equatoria.At least, we are able to reduce this awareness to the level of pupils to lower primary schools in form of science lesson to their level. At least the emphasis is that they have to grow up knowing that HIV/AIDS is there and it’s too much in Western Equatoria”, Santino outlined.
The former law maker attributed HIV prevalence to the movementof the citizens of neighboring Countries such as DR Congo bordering Yambio, Maridi and Ezo Counties into the counties.
Santino said that the citizens of the two Countries continued to cross to Western Equatoria on daily basis and their status remained unknown posing risk of contracting the virus to the community.
He said the other factor contributing to spread of HIV in Western Equatoria was the operation of lodges in the residential areas which in most cases exposed children to risk being exploited.
According to Western Equatoria State AIDS Commission, the awareness together with free HIV testing was expected to be conducted in most of public and private institutions in the State as part of mass campaign to end new infection.