Nigeria: 1.6m Nigerians On Aids Treatment - NACA

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

As Nigeria moves to ramp up testing and treatment for HIV virus in the country, the federal government has said that an estimated 1,629,427 persons living with HIV have so far been put under a regular treatment.

It also said that out of about 150,000 children infected with HIV, only 80,000 are currently receiving regular treatment.

However, government said despite the negative impact of the lockdown instituted as a public health measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 across the world, the HIV programme in Nigeria has proved resilient with an increase in the number of people placed on treatment.

The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Aliyu Gambo, who spoke at a ceremony marking this year's World AIDS Day on Wednesday, said that presently, an estimated 1.8 million people live with HIV in Nigeria of which 90% are aware of their HIV status, 96% are on treatment and 84% are virally suppressed.

He said that out of this number,

according to the breakdown of the statistics of HIV carriers already captured under the treatment net, 57,280 are children of 14 years and below, 551,106 are male adult from 15 years and above, while 1,021,041 are female adult from 15 and above.

While addressing journalists, Gambo said that Nigeria had over the last few years recorded significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He said that a recalibration of the HIV epidemic showed a significant decline in HIV prevalence from 5.8 per cent in 2001 to 1.3 per cent in 2018.

"Presently, it is estimated that 1.8 million people live with HIV in Nigeria of which 90% are aware of their HIV status, 96% are on treatment and 84% are virally suppressed," he said.

Sadly, Gambo said that approximately 38 million people are currently living with HIV globally, while millions have died of AIDS-related causes.

He lamented that many people living with HIV or at risk for HIV infection still do not have access to prevention, treatment and care, and there is still no known cure for HIV.

The global theme for this year's commemoration is "End Inequalities, End AIDS, End Pandemics".

However, the national theme is "End Inequalities, End AIDS through Sustainable HIV Financing in Nigeria".

The Director General said that several activities have been lined up for this year's commemoration of the World AIDS Day which included road-walk from NACA Headquarters to Berger Roundabout, Jumat and thanksgiving services at the national mosque and 1st Baptist Church, Area 11, sports at the Guard Brigade Sport Centre and

adolescent and young persons event featuring debate among schools in the FCT.

The debate session, as well as a scientific session, will be hosted by the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, the UNAIDS Ambassador for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria at Transcorp Hilton on November 30 and December 1 respectively.

Gambo described the current campaign as the last mile of the National HIV response, which is aimed at getting the public and private sectors, the communities and all stakeholders in the national response to play roles and to ensure epidemic control and sustainability.

According to him, ensuring states' ownership and AIDS remain on the political agenda to overcome all barriers that prevent access to services, create an enabling environment that promotes equal access; safeguard the rights of PLHIV and hold decision makers and implementers accountable.

He further noted that recent evidences of the mode of transmission studies and Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) aimed at identifying the source and distribution of new infections and the populations at greatest risk of infection, "showed that never married individuals, all typology of the key populations and new infections from mother to child transmission are the drivers of the epidemic".

He said that interventions must be targeted at these population groups, adding that evidences drive the programme.

While giving a situation report on the HIV control efforts, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Akudo Ikpeazu, said that there has been considerable improvement in the HIV testing and the number of persons living with HIV that has been mobilised for treatment between last year and now.

She said that over 400,000 persons have been brought under the regular HIV treatment programme in the last one year.

On his part, the National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with AIDS, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, expressed regret that at a time the world is targeting total elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV globally, Nigeria is still recording huge numbers in child HIV infection.

Ibrahim said that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped in refocusing on ways to assist and empower those living with HIV so that they can be lifted from poverty.

According to him, poverty and inequality are among the greatest enablers of the widespread of HIV in the country.

The Country Director, UNAIDS, Dr. Eramus Morah, said that recent studies have revealed the reasons why the world missed the 90 90 90 targets and why there is need for urgent and transformative action "to end social, economic, racial and gender inequalities, restrictive and discriminatory laws, policies and practices, stigma and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that perpetuate the global AIDS epidemic".

He expressed the hope that if the right steps are taken, substantial progress will be made in eradicating HIV.

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