Of the 1.9 million Nigerians infected with HIV, 1,619,133 are receiving treatment, the National AIDS Control Agency said.
This was announced by NACA Director General Dr Gambo Aliyu at a press conference marking World AIDS Day in Abuja on Thursday under the theme “Ending AIDS with Equality: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services”.
Dr. Aliyu said that this year’s WAD aims to promote equal access to marginalized populations among disadvantaged and key affected populations by removing economic, social, cultural and legal barriers to HIV prevention services for vulnerable HIV-infected populations.
HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and, if left untreated, can cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
WAD is celebrated annually on December 1st to raise awareness, honor those who have passed and celebrate victories such as increased access to curative and preventive services.
Aliyu said: “Nigeria’s success story can be seen in the dramatic reduction in HIV prevalence from 3.4% in 2017 to 1.3% in 2018.
“As of the end of September 2022, we have 1,619,133 people in treatment, a significant jump from 838,020 in 2017. We have grown from 251 treatment sites in 2007 to 2,262 in 2020.
“Numbers of new HIV infections gradually decreased from 103,404 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021. Key population treatment centers also increased significantly from 10 sites in 2017, increasing coverage from 16,147 to 118 in 2021 , covering more than 221,010 people.”
He added that before COVID-19 there were 27 molecular laboratory testing sites, but now it is being tested at more than 100 molecular testing sites where the virus can be monitored for prevention and treatment purposes.
“Through our Alignment 2.0, HIV prevention and treatment is shifting ownership to the states while ensuring continued partnership and donor support.
“The launch of the N62 billion Nigeria Trust Fund is another step towards continued national level funding and ownership of national responses.
“While we maintain the control of the epidemic achieved to date, there will be an increased focus on ensuring that the availability, quality and applicability of HIV treatment, testing and prevention services are improved so that everyone can receive good services.
“Access to prevention, treatment, care and support services will be enhanced for hard-to-reach populations, especially those in conflict-affected communities,” he noted.
For her part, Dr Akudo Ikpeazu, National Coordinator of the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infection Control and Hepatitis Program at the Federal Ministry of Health, said there was a need to address the inequalities that stand in the way of ending the epidemic.
“Today, we have 90 percent of people living with HIV who know their status, 98 percent of us who know their HIV treatment status, and 95 percent who are virally suppressed after treatment,” she said.
“Despite providing free treatment services today, we still have a small number of children under the age of 15 living with HIV who are having difficulty finding and receiving treatment. For children, we have the same statistics as we do for adults, 34%( HIV-infected people who knew their status), 100% of those who knew they were on treatment, and 81% of those who knew they were on treatment had achieved viral suppression.
“We need equal access to essential services, especially for children, pregnant women, key populations and their partners. To do this, we must address and remove all structural barriers that negatively impact access to services in a coherent manner.
“We’ve made some concrete progress this year in addressing these issues of access, including mapping PMTCT to identify all the places where pregnant women access delivery services to find pregnant women with HIV.
“Based on the findings, we are working to expand our service locations from the current 6,000 locations to approximately 40,000 locations in 36 states and the FCT. Our goal is to find all pregnant women and test all of them to ensure that all positive Everyone gets treatment, and making sure we’re able to report every mother who gets tested and gets treated.”
Furthermore, globally, the number of new HIV infections fell by about 32 percent and AIDS-related deaths fell by about 52 percent because they were tested and treated, said Dr Leo Zekeng, UNAIDS country director, can lead a normal life.
“We are here today to remind ourselves that AIDS is still an unfinished business. As of last year, 36 million people died from AIDS and we still have 38 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS. So, it’s an unfinished business ,” Zeken pointed out.