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HIV transmission, deaths decline in Nigeria

HIV transmission, deaths decline in Nigeria

The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Gambo Aliyu, on Monday said the rates of HIV transmission and deaths have been on a steady decline since the establishment of the agency.

NACA was established in February 2007 as the agency responsible for the multi-sectoral coordination of Nigeria’s HIV response.

Mr Aliyu while speaking at the presentation of stewardship of the HIV response in Nigeria (2007-2021) said annual AIDS-related deaths declined from 68,600 in 2010 to 52,392 in 2019.

He said the agency has made significant progress in capturing more people on HIV treatment since its establishment 14 years ago.

He explained that as of 2007, the country had an HIV prevalence rate of 4.6 per cent with an estimated 2.9 million people living with HIV.

He noted that 124,567 people were on treatment in only 25 treatment centres that existed as at the time.

He however said following the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) conducted in 2018, the number of those on treatment had grown to over 1.3 million people.

The survey which was the country’s largest ever, cost about $100 million, involved 185 survey teams, and covered more than 200,000 people.

Preliminary results indicated that there are 1.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country — a 40 per cent reduction from the country’s official national HIV prevalence estimates for 2017.

HIV response

Mr Aliyu said the federal government has increased ownership of the country’s HIV response and also placed more people on treatment to ensure viral load suppression among people living with HIV.

“There is increased ownership of the response as the federal government has continued to make good her promise of placing 50,000 persons on treatment annually,” he said.

He said despite achievements made, the HIV response is faced with challenges that threaten to erode the successes achieved.

Mr Aliyu noted that the major challenge is the need for strategic and real-time data for decision making as well as providing financial resources to prosecute the fight against the virus.

He said the support of all stakeholders is required to win the fight against the virus through shared responsibility, stronger partnerships, responsible implementation and shared accountability in the response.

In his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha applauded the agency for sustaining the country’s HIV response even in the phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said NACA has achieved so much in its mission to the aspiration of government in the past 14 years.

Mr Mustapha noted that when NACA was inaugurated as an agency, its challenges were the burden of HIV related stigma, deficiency of the disease knowledge by health workers, poor access to treatment and absence of vigorous prevention efforts.

He said most of the challenges have been conquered.

He reassured the agency of the government‘s commitment to continue to support HIV response in the country.

Speaking at the event, UNAIDS Country Director, Erasmus Morah, said Nigeria was on the path to meeting the 90-90-90 target set by the UN.

The aim is to diagnose 90 per cent of all HIV positive persons, provide Antiretroviral Therapy (ARTs) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral load suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.

At the dawn of the deadline, about 60 per cent of the people living with the virus in Nigeria are on treatment, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows.

While the 60 per cent already shows a deficit of about 30 percentage points going by the 2020 target, Nigeria is off-track in other focus areas such as 90 per cent of the population knowing their status at the end of the deadline.

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