As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said the country is on a fast-track to controlling the HIV epidemic.
Director-general of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, who stated this yesterday in Abuja at the official flag off of 2021 World AIDS Day, with the theme: “End Inequality End AIDS through sustainable financing”, also said that Nigeria was among the foremost countries now on the watch list in terms of the race for HIV control.
The DG noted that in the last two years, the number of people on HIV treatment have doubled saying there were about 8,000 people on treatment as at March 2019 and now, there are 1.6million people on treatment.
“We will fight HIV to finish in this country, we are already doing that. Last two years, March 2019, the president gave NACA a marching order, and at that time, we went back to the drawing board to see how many we had on treatment and how many we can save. It was a little over 800,000 but right now, we have 1.6m on treatment. “The effort of the government and partners is working. We are looking forward to the next 18-month from now, Nigeria is a country to watch globally. Hopefully by then, we will address the international community to let them know that HIV is under control in Nigeria.”
He said the achievement is courtesy of the collaborative work that has been done in the last 20 years.
In his remarks, the UNODC representative, Dr. Oliver Stolpe, urged Nigeria to build on the momentum and ensure sustainable financing of HIV through initiatives such as the HIV Trust Fund.
Stolpe, who spoke on behalf of UNAIDS and the United System in Nigeria, however, said for that to happen, governments at both federal and state levels have to start recognising health as a sensible investment, as t nation’s source of wealth rather than a cost.
The president, Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Abdukadiri Ibrahim, said Prevention of Mother-to-Child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is still an issue in the country, saying the services are not captured in many primary healthcare programmes.
Ibrahim said addressing MTCT is crucial to achieving HIV goal, while calling on the government to ensure that all barriers to HIV elimination are eliminated.