The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) on Friday said 1.8 million persons are estimated to be living with HIV in Nigeria, out of which about 1.63 million are already on the lifesaving medication of antiretroviral therapy.
The Director-General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said this at a press briefing in Abuja in commemoration of World AIDS Day (WAD).
The PUNCH reports that WAD is marked yearly on December 1, and it is a day set aside to support global efforts to prevent new infections, increase HIV awareness and knowledge, support those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS as well as remember those who lost their lives due to the disease.
This year’s theme is “Communities: Leadership to End AIDS by 2030”.
Aliyu said, “Nigeria, like many other countries, has made significant strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but there is still much to be done to achieve the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
“Nigeria has the second-largest burden of HIV infection. Currently, a total of 1.8 million persons are estimated to be living with HIV in Nigeria, out of which about 1.63 million are already on the lifesaving medication of ART.
“Approximately 58 percent are estimated to be female and 42 percent male. The national average of mother-to-child transmission rate of 22 percent is driven by a large number of states with transmission rates above 25 percent and few states with rates below 15 percent.”
Aliyu noted that Nigeria is responsible for about 30 percent of the world’s gap in achieving the global target of eradicating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
While appreciating the efforts of development partners and global communities in supporting Nigeria’s HIV response, the NACA boss said the government is committed to achieving the global target of ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.
“I equally note and appreciate the invaluable contributions of communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is within these communities that we have found resilience, determination, and the will to make a difference. The strength of these communities has propelled us forward in our efforts to improve services and access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
“Community leadership encompasses people having common roles and responsibilities to take action as leaders. These community leaders in all their diversities include policymakers, service providers, gatekeepers (traditional, religious, business/trade leaders etc.), women, men, young people and other vulnerable groups, civil society groups, people infected and affected by HIV, Key populations by their typology etc.
“Furthermore, we recognise the importance of addressing social and structural factors that drive the HIV epidemic. It is imperative that we confront these systemic inequalities head-on and work tirelessly to ensure that all individuals have equal access to life-saving prevention, treatment, and care services as well as all other social services available to all Nigerians,” he added.
He, however, called for the mobilisation of community leaders for gender-equitable social norms and gender equality in the uptake of HIV prevention including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, treatment, and care services.
SOURCE: Punch Healthwise