Dr. Gambo Aliyu, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), says Nigeria has recorded significant decline in the number of persons infected with HIV/AIDS.
He disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja on Friday, ahead of the 2023 World AIDS Day (WAD).
The WAD is a global observance, annually celebrated on Dec. 1 around the world to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who died of the disease.
The day has “Communities: Leadership to End AIDS by 2030” as its theme for 2023.
The NACA boss, therefore, 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 the country, out of which, about 1.63 million are already on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), a lifesaving medication.
“Approximately, 58 per cent are estimated to be females, and 42 per cent are males.
“The national average Mother-To-Child Transmission rate of 22 per cent is driven by a large number of states with transmission rates above 25 per cent and few states with rates below 15 per cent.
“Nigeria is responsible for about 30 per cent of the world’s gap in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).”
He said that the declining figure was achieved with the support of partners and global communities to prevent new infections, increase HIV awareness and knowledge and support those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
He, however, stressed the need to address social and structural factors that drive the HIV epidemic.
“It is imperative that we confront these systemic inequalities head-on and work to ensure that all individuals have equal access to life-saving prevention, treatment and care services, as well as other social services available to Nigerians,” he said.
Dr. Leo Zekeng, the Country Director of UNAIDS, who said that the UN body is committed
to continuous support to the Federal Government in eliminating HIV/AIDS, added that “we have made remarkable progress not only in Nigeria, but worldwide as about 30 million people are on treatment, which is remarkable.
“AIDS is no longer the deadly disease that it used to be, and those who are diagnosed with HIV but follow every rules and take the medication can live a normal life.”
On his part, Amobi Ogah, Chairman, House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control (ARM), said the parliament was working toward increasing budgetary allocation to fight the disease in the country.
He said “we assure you that the National Assembly will work toward increasing budgetary allocation to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the face of limited resources.
“We will also provide the legislative framework to protect the rights of People Living with HIV and other forms of discrimination and stigmatisation.”
Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), said that the theme of the 2023 WAD recognises the need for communities to support programmes and initiatives toward achieving the 2030 target of ending AIDS.
Ibrahim, who was represented by Mr James Atusue, urged communities to tackle obstacles standing in the way of providing HIV services to those who required them most.
He said “as a network, we continue to mobilise our community in solidarity, helping those living with HIV, and those affected by HIV to deal with stigma and discrimination, and support them to know existing services from the social and economic perspective.”