Newswatch (Lagos)

Africa: Navy top brass joins in the campaign against AIDS

Lagos — The campaign against the spread of acquired immuned deficiency syndrome, AIDS, which experts say has become an epidemic in Nigeria continues. Last week, Adeyemi Ambrose Afolahan, a retired rear admiral called on Nigerian youths to abstain from sex or at worst use condom as the only way to ensure an AIDS-free society.

In his speech at a seminar in Lagos organised by the United Nations of Youths Network Nigeria, Afolahan commended the youths for their campaign against AIDS, saying youths who represent the future growth of any nation should always complement government's effort especially in the anti-AIDS campaign.

"We may not be too wrong if we say that apart from slave trade, the HIV/AIDS is the second most depopulating incident in Africa nowadays," Afolahan said.

The health ministry's finding shows that AIDS is rampant among Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 49. Incidentally, this is the most productive age of the population. The implication is that, if urgent steps are not taken to address this scourge, Nigeria would lose its workforce to AIDS.

Nigeria is said to rank 27th in the World's AIDS-carrying nations, and 7th in Africa. According to Tim Menakaya, health minister at a forum to mark World AIDS Day, 250,000 Nigerians have died of AIDS. And between 1993 and 1999, sectional surveillance conducted showed that the spread of HIV is on a steady increase.

In virtually all the states of the federation, the overall average rise was from 1.8 percent in 1989 to 2.8 percent in 1993. It is now 5.4. About three years ago, 35,000 persons were infected. The number has risen to 2.6 million.

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