As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the World AIDS Day, it has been revealed that 3.4 million people in the country are infected with the virus out of the 36.9 million persons living with the disease around the world.
Currently, Nigeria is treating about 800,000 people living with the virus with antiretroviral drugs, and it is expected that the figure will significantly decrease with the implementation of 2014 treatment guideline.
The minister of health for state, Dr Osagie Ehanire who disclosed this, Tuesday, at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, said the HIV/AIDS epidemic has become one of the key drivers of change for public health and public health policy with enormous negative impact on the health of Nigerians and the economy.
He said the theme for the year which is “Getting to Zero: Ending HIV/AIDS By 2030” and which echoes global vision towards achieving zero new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths, is set to work with the 2030 proposed deadline.
“As at the end of 2014, about 36.9 million persons are living with HIV/AIDS globally. Nigeria contributes 3.4 million to this global population of people living with HIV. Nigeria is currently treating 800,000 people living with the virus with antiretroviral drugs.”
He said so far, HIV prevalence among youths (15-24 years) showed a consistent decline from 6.0 per cent in year 2001 to 2.9 per cent in 2004 which is suggestive of a reduction in new infections.
He said in 2014, the ministry conducted two important surveys which are “antenatal HIV Sentinel Survey among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in Nigeria within a specified period and the integrated biological and bahavoiural surveillance survey among key population.”
The minister pledged that the root causes of the disease such as poverty, STIs, lack of information and education as well as stigma and discrimination will be tackled headlong by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also revealed that in the Sub-Saharan Africa, new infections have reduced by 41 per cent in the last 15 years, more than in any region in the world.
Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, stated this on Tuesday during her speech at the ministry in commemorating the WAD.
She said “Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic with nearly 26 million people living with the infection.”
“Only 43 per cent of people needing anti-retroviral treatment have access while only 52 per cent of people living with HIV know their status. The target is to ensure that in the next five years, 90 per cent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 per cent are offered therary and ensure that 90 per cent achieve viral load suppression.