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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

South sudan state blames spread of HIV/AIDS on ignorance

By Ngor Arol Garang

August 23, 2010 (RENK) – A branch of southern Sudan’s HIV/AIDS on Saturday said that ignorance and communication breakdown is hindering efforts to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

The United Nations estimate that 1.4% of 15 to 49 year olds in Sudan have HIV/AIDS.

Majok Dut Ayany, who heads the commission in Juba told Sudan Tribune on his recent visit to Wau, that the commission was planning to come up with guidelines to devise an effective communication campaign that would help change behavior that makes HIV/AIDS more prevalent.

“We at the commission are doing our best to ensure proper messages about the prevalence of this disease are properly communicated and that our people understand them”, said Ayany.

Ayany said he was in Wau, the capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal, to participate in the closing of a four-day workshop that brought together religious leaders, NGOs, government agencies and development partners to share their views in helping the commission develop a behavior change communication guidelines for HIV aids prevention.

“This workshop was organized by the western Bahr el Ghazal state government and I was invited. I came to attend it on behave of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state government and on behave of the commission itself as head of the branch in the state”, said Ayany.

The official added that his commission has being conducting advocacy campaigns against HIV/AIDS in all five counties of the state but recent surveys suggest that changing people’s behavior remains a challenge.

“We focused on risk behaviors such as drug use, multiple sex partners, stigma and discrimination for we believe that we can come up with a concrete guidelines on the implementation of HIV/AIDS policies to speedup behavior change,” he said.

Ayany said that that stigma and discrimination from friends and family has made thousands lose their lives as they are afraid to go for testing.

“The move is timely as it follows the recent completion of final draft of the ‘HIV Prevention Strategy and Action Plan for Northern Bahr el Ghazal state as well as the formation of County HIV/AIDS Advocacy and Communication Advisory Committee (CHAACAC),” said Ayany.

He further added that condoms are being issued in large numbers free of charge by the commission partnership support by international organizations and but most people don’t use them.

“There are a lot of things that we need to re-address carefully so as people may change attitudes, for example statistics indicates that in every ten men, eight are unfaithful to their partners and this is being instigated by the attitude that men with a single partner are not real men,” he said.

UNAIDS statistics on Sudan

Number of people living with HIV: 320 000 [220 000 – 440 000]

Adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate: 1.4% [1% – 2%]

Adults aged 15 and up living with HIV: 290 000 [190 000 – 420 000]

Women aged 15 and up living with HIV: 170 000 [120 000 – 250 000]

Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: 25 000 [18 000 – 33 000]

Deaths due to AIDS: 25 000 [17 000 – 32 000]

Orphans due to AIDS aged 0 to 17: N/A

(ST)