8 February 2016

Nigeria: 58,000 Babies Born With HIV Annually in Nigeria - United Nations

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has stated that about 58,000 babies are born HIV/AIDS positive yearly in Nigeria.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Michel Sidibe, who is in Nigeria on a three day visit, spoke on Monday night in Abuja during a courtesy call on the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Prof. John Idoko.

Sidibe said there was the need to increase testing and treatment to a larger number of Nigerians as a measure towards winning the war against HIV/AIDS in the country.

He said, "If there is any one country where I should be today to be able to talk about ending this epidemic, it should be Nigeria, because if we fail to control the epidemic, it will be disastrous. If we fail to quicken the pace and reach people, we may not be able to end the epidemic.

"We are in a defining moment, Nigeria has been able to demonstrate that result is possible, that we can see decline on new infections, that we can see decline on the number of persons who are dying from HIV/AIDS, that we can increase the number of people on treatment.

"If we do not demonstrate that we are capable of achieving mother to child transmission at all levels of government and at every single place, it will be difficult. From data in our books, 58, 000 babies are born with HIV/AIDS every year in Nigeria.

"We need to be able to make sure that we don't have those babies born with HIV. We need to make sure that we have a new generation born without HIV. With that you would have been able to demonstrate, like I just said, at all government levels."

Sidibe, who said infected babies had 50 per cent chances of survival if they are not put on treatment immediately after birth, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to make sure that Nigeria doesn't have babies dying from HIV at the end of his tenure.

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