By Winifred Ogbebo, Abuja
As Nigeria celebrates Children’s Day tomorrow, May 27th, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has called on Nigerians to reflect on children living with HIV and their families, as the country still accounts for a significant proportion of children living with HIV/AIDS.
May 27th is a day set aside for the promotion and welfare of children.
The director general, NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the burden is fed by unrestrained mother-to-child (vertical) transmission of HIV and a dysfunctional Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) system.
He said, “Even though there has been modest progress in antiretroviral coverage for pregnant women living with HIV, vertical transmission of HIV infection from infected mother to child remains high at an estimated 28% of affected pregnancies.”
In a statement signed by the Head, Corporate Communications Unit, NACA, Mrs Toyin Aderibigbe, he said NACA has been working with partners to scale-up services for HIV prevention, care and support.
“ In 2015, Nigeria successfully increased Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services to over 7,265 sites with 53,677 pregnant women placed on antiretroviral treatment. Despite this progress, a lot more needs to be done to stop children getting infected with HIV.
According to the NACA DG, “HIV/AIDS is a global health challenge of our lifetime but we remain committed to fighting this virus to finish. Research has led to innovation in preventing transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their children and an ever-widening scope of treatment options for children living with HIV and their families.
“Counselling and testing for HIV is crucial especially among pregnant women to protect the unborn child and ensure that in the very near future, a HIV-free generation is made possible.”
“As we celebrate with our children, please join us and help us win the fight against HIV in children. No child should be born with HIV in Nigeria” said Aliyu.