Nigeria: Combating HIV and Aids in Nigeria

Members of the public light candles at a symbolic grave marked in Eldoret on World Aids Day (file photo).
24 November 2021
opinion

Ideally, the response to HIV/AIDS is one that demands concerted efforts across vertical and horizontal angles; involving all segments of the society - from governments at all levels to civil society organizations (CSOs), professional bodies particularly the media, religious, traditional, community leaders, individual support down to market leaders. The reason is that HIV/AIDS still exists, and could be contracted by persons of all ages including infants, and with no cure. It entails that a person that is diagnosed of HIV will live with it, or manage it with medication if detected at an early stage. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS is a major cause of infant and childhood mortality and morbidity in Africa. This is why sensitization down to rural areas is a necessary.

In particular, the roles of CSOs is critical and cannot be overemphasized as the fight against HIV and AIDS shifts from an emergency response to a long-term response as the virus remains with the society. In fact, the roles of CSOs, both community-based, non-governmental and faith-based organizations become even more important. With good coordination and support, civil society can play a good role in HIV and AIDS advocacy and service delivery. And without it, fewer services would be accessible only by key populations which implies that people in remote areas would have to travel a distance for services and therefore hinder the targeted population from benefitting from provided remedy.

In fact, CSOs and other stakeholders can explore extensively in advocacy when properly equipped on the response to HIV/AIDS. Aspects of advocacy on HIV/AIDS in which civil society could effectively be engaged will include monitoring to ensure accountability and transparency of government's commitment; reducing legal and policy structural barriers to a quality HIV response; reducing stigma and discrimination for key populations; supporting civil society networks and coalitions; and promoting the ability of citizens to recognize and demand quality services in their communities.

Nigeria reported the first case of AIDS in 1986. Since then, national HIV prevalence was 1.8% in 1991; 5.8% in 2001; 4.4% in 2005; 3% in 2014, and 1.4% in 2018 (for individuals aged 15-64 years). The prevalence varies across regions and states with the highest prevalence being in the south-south (3.1%) while the north-west has the lowest prevalence (0.6 %). The 2018 HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) reveals that 1.9 million people live with HIV in Nigeria. The prevalence of HIV in 2018 was estimated at eight per 10,000 persons. Prevalence of HIV among adults aged 15-64 years was 1.4%, while prevalence of HIV among children aged 0-14 years was 0.2%. The global estimate in 2018 was 37.9 million, of which 1.8 million were children below 15 years.

From records, heterosexuality (sexually attracted to members of opposite sex) still accounts for the majority of transmissions of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria with over 90% of transmissions through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Carl Umegboro, umegborocarl@gmail.com

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