The Rivers State Agency
for the Control of AIDs (RWSACA), has inaugurated a seven-man Kingdom AIDS Committee (KAC) in Ekpeye, Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The inauguration is in accordance with RIVSACA’s new approach to institute sustained community ownership of HIV response by empowering such communities to the level where they can recognise their HIV/AIDS problems, develop their own interventions and implement same using community resources.
Executive Director of RIVSACA, Dr Chimezie Okeh stated that Nigeria has the second highest burden of HIV in the world after South Africa.
Dr Okeh, also noted the factors driving the epidemic in the country. These include sexual promiscuity, marital infidelity, high rate of casual sex, stigmatisation of infected people, poverty and ignorance as well as harmful cultural practices.
According him,” these problems are occuring in the communities, they are the problems of the communities and, therefore, the communities are most suited to solve them.Communities, therefore, must rise and drive HIV prevention and impact mitigation.
“It is for this reason that the RIVSACA is undertaking this initiative to empower communities to take charge of HIV response in their localities in the spirit of self-help with or without government support and participation,”.
The terms of reference of the KAC, include: driving the HIV/AIDS response, coordinating activities of the Community Action Committee on AIDs (CACAs) through clan level coordination meeting.
Others are receiving and reviewing reports of CACAs with the Local Action Committee on AIDs (LACAS) setting programe priorities for CACAs in council, leverage resources and organize fund raising activities.
In the same vein, His Royal Majesty in council is expected, among other things to provide overall leadership for HIV Prevention and Impact Mitigation in the area as well as receive and review reports for policy decision.
The traditional rulers are also required to mobilise resources for HIV response activities and also support LACA by ensuring that it is properly funded by LACA council and His Royal Majesty and Council.
RIVCASA had prior to the inauguration embarked on an advocacy visit to the Eze Ekpeye Logbo, Eze Robinson O. Robinson and his council of Chiefs to sensitise them on HIV Prevalence in Ekpeye Kingdom and how to check the trend.