Prof. John Idoko, the Director-General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS, has advised Nigerians to love carefully and play safe as they celebrate the Valentine’s Day.
Idoko gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday.
The statement urged people to take full charge of their health by knowing their HIV/AIDS status and encouraging their partners to avoid risky behaviours that might expose them to the AIDS virus, adding: “Besides the excitement of the Day, people of all age groups, especially the young ones are enjoined to strive to access correct and accurate information about the pandemic.”
It said abstinence from sex, keeping to a faithful partner and using a condom remained the best prevention against the virus.
It said it is pertinent that the young and adults are equipped with adequate information and education on how to ensure that Valentine day celebration is not taken out of context.
According to the statement, Valentine’s Day is a day expected to show love and care to those we care about, including the less privileged people around us.
It said: “This is a special day for love. The only thing I tell people is that in your process of loving, love carefully, play safe and that is very important.
“I will emphasise that those who are young and haven’t had sex, keep to abstinence, and those who have partners – faithful partners, stick to your faithful partners.
“But when you do not know where you are going, or you don’t know your partner, please consistent use of condom and above all you should all know your status.”
The statement said when a person living with HIV adheres to treatment, he can achieve viral suppression.
“When the virus is suppressed you do not transmit the virus to your partner,” it said.
Idoko also urged government, groups and eminent individuals to look at ways of providing more social and physical amenities that can engage young minds and keep them busy.
The statement said: “More recreational parks, sport arenas, museums, tourist sites need to be developed as this will provide opportunity for the youth to visit such places, instead of engaging in the risky behaviours.
“This will help accelerate our optimism of putting an end to the epidemic by 2030.
“That is my message to all Nigerians, and I wish everyone a lovely but carefully loved Valentine’s Day.”
NAN reports that Saint Valentine’s Day is an annual commemoration held on February 14 globally, celebrating love and affection.
The day was named after Saint Valentine and established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 A.D.