The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has advised Nigerians, especially young people, to seize the opportunity of the Valentine Day to know their HIV status.
The Director General of the agency, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, gave the advice in his message to mark this year’s Valentine Day.
He said: “It is 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 Days if he or she is diagnosed late or presents with terminal complications related to HIV infection and AIDS.”
Dr Aliyu said the Valentine period which is particularly noted for young people expressing their love for one another 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.
He urged Nigerians, especially the youth, to express love within the context of caring deeply for their loved ones and avoid risky behaviors that could make them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
He said the first sexual contact among youths in Nigeria began at less than 15 years for 15% of Nigeria’s youth. “It is gathered that based on the NAIIS draft report, HIV prevalence among sampled number of youths is 0.5% which recorded highest among females between age 15-24 years at 0.8% while males of the same age bracket stood at 0.2%.”