Kaduna State has recorded a drastic decline in new HIV infections, Gov. Patrick Yakowa has said.
The governor disclosed this in a broadcast to commemorate the World AIDS Day, which is celebrated globally on Dec. 1 every year.
Yakowa, who is also the Chairman of Kaduna State Action Committee on HIV and AIDS (KADSACA), attributed the decline to the commitment of the government and stakeholders toward creating a HIV-free society.
"We have all witnessed the decline in the state's HIV prevalence rate from 7.0 per cent in 2008 to the current 5.1 per cent.
"We shall not relent on this commitment, we shall strive to aim higher and lead the way toward the eradication of HIV and AIDS in the federation," he said.
Yakowa, however, decried the impact of HIV and AIDS on the socio-economic life of the country as well as the discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS.
He noted that the victims' low self-esteem, refusal to access HIV and AIDS counselling and testing services, as well as refusal to access treatment largely contributed to the prevalence of the disease in the state.
Yakowa described the theme of this year World AIDS Day, "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Deaths from AIDS-related Illness, Zero Discrimination", as apt.
He noted that the theme would go a long way in sensitising the people to need to mobilise resources to fill perceptible gaps in response patterns, while increasing the people's access to treatment.
The governor, however, reiterated the government's commitment toward tackling the disease and creating more public awareness to reduce HIV prevalence by at least 50 per cent.
Besides, Yakowa pledged to provide good prevention, care, treatment and support strategies to mitigate the effects of HIV and AIDS on women, children and other vulnerable groups by 2015.
He noted that the state had 391 private sector and civil society groups offering different services on HIV care, as well as 21 free antiretroviral therapy sites.
He added that there were 114 free HIV testing and counselling sites, 114 health facilities offering prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services in the state.
Yakowa said that the state had procured the latest computer software, "eNNRIM-DHIS 2.0", for the collation, analysis and dissemination of information on HIV and AIDS.
"Our new strategy is to be the leading catalyst for change in the states' and national response to HIV and AIDS," he said.
He said that efforts to reduce the HIV prevalence rate would be successful via effective implementation of evidence-based policies and guidelines, greater accountability and provision of adequate resources, among others.
Yakowa stressed the need for all stakeholders involved in the HIV response activities to partner with the government in efforts to reduce the scourge.
He said that such collaborative efforts were imperative because "HIV is everybody's business.
"There should be a commitment to sharing responsibility for the funding and implementation of integrated approaches to HIV prevention, treatment and care that will bring broad health benefits and help to lay the foundation for universal access to HIV services," he said.
Besides, Yakowa pledged that his administration would provide psychosocial and economic succour for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
He also promised that more Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) centres would be established across the state, while tangible efforts would be made to scale up the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme.
He said that sustained efforts would be to create more public awareness of the effects of HIV and AIDS in the state.