October 10, 2013 (BENTIU) - Officials in South Sudan’s Unity state say HIV/AIDS infections have dropped from 1.6% to 1.3% over the last year following community education awareness programmes.
Ahead of world AIDS day, Paul Mabany, the state coordinator of HIV/AIDS in asked NGO’s in Unity state to provide funding to support their activities against the deadly disease.
Leer county in Unity state and Bentiu town have had a high number cases of HIV/AIDS but according to Mabany the spread of the disease has slowed as a result of community awareness campaigns.
“The lead agency in the state here gave some grant to some NGO’s in the ground so they did a lot of mobilisation in the schools, in the churches and also community rallies has been done that is why the number of prevalent rate has come down”, Mabany said.
The official admitted that some communities are ignorant about HIV/AIDS and it is spread through sexual intercourse. He said that radio messages were the best ways to reach remote areas like Payinjiar and Abiemhnom.
Health officials warned that some victims are not willingly to seek medical help due the social stigma attached to the disease.
“Off course we have number of people who had HIV positive and we can’t see them but normally they come to VCT [Voluntary Counselling and Testing] to collect their medicines, but for them for someone to declare himself may be positively with HIV, so it is very difficult because of the stigma”, added Mabany.
Monday Kato a UNICEF nutrition health officer in Unity state said the UN was supporting the Health Ministry by providing technical training to Bentiu hospital.
Poor roads have hamper the South Sudan Aids Commission and others implementing partners from reaching communities in rural areas.
“Up to now we do have problem with accessibility most of the counties but it is our hope that by the 1st of December, we will have at least five counties accessible, so we are targeting these counties to have testing campaigns”, said Kato.
HIV/AIDs is an epidemic disease that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. It has affected millions people in the worldwide.
In 2009 it was estimated that 3.1% of South Sudan’s population were carrying the disease.