Experts have warned that HIV/AIDS is being transmitted among residents of Nasarawa State through the traditional practice of cutting the uvula, locally referred to as belubelu, with unsanitised and unsterilised local instruments.
As a result, they added, the rate of infection had continued to rise at an alarming rate in spite of efforts to check the spread of the deadly virus in the state.
According to statistics from the National Agency for the Control of Aids, at 8.2 per cent, Nasarawa’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate falls just below that of South Africa, a country that has the highest population of people living with the virus in Africa.
Also, speaking on the dangers of cutting the uvular in the traditional way, the Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, Nasarawa State chapter, Dr. Ashiegbu Kelechi, said that the ‘surgery’ was usually carried out by quacks who used the same unsterilised instruments to cut their clients’ throats.
Kelechi also warned that those who still subjected themselves to this crude process might be putting their lives at risk.
He said, “The quacks are exposing them to more infections, especially HIV/AIDS. Some of these people have lost their voices and vital respiratory organs to this process. It is only an ear and throat specialist that can make referrals on uvula infections. It is also common to see people cutting their finger nails as well as shaving and grooming with these quacks. These are the means of getting infected with HIV/AIDS.”
He also described local incisions (tribal marks) as another means by which Nasarawa residents are contracting HIV/AIDS.
NACA’s Senior Programme Officer and Partnership Coordinator, Mrs. Chidiebere Ezeokafor, during a visit to Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, said the HIV prevalent rates in the state must be addressed.
According to her, a majority of the HIV/AIDS control strategies in the state were funded by international donors.
“We are in Nasarawa to solicit more funding for HIV control programmes because the bulk of the funding is donor-driven and the World Bank-assisted project will end in April 2017, hence the need to urge state governments across the country to increase their counterpart funds,” she said.
Ezeokafor warned that if there was no serious effort to provide support before the end of 2016, the infection rate would soar in the state.
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