Efforts directed at curbing the spread of the virus will be focused more towards women, NACA said.
Majority of people living with HIV in Nigeria are women, the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, has said.
The Director-General of NACA, John Idoko, said 60 percent of the about 3.5 million Nigerians living with the virus, are women, meaning men account for the remaining 40 percent.
He said the government was directing greater effort at involving women in the fight against the virus, since they constitute a higher proportion of those affected.
“NACA gives a special and unique attention to women because nearly 60 per cent of the 3.5 million people living with HIV in the country are women,” he said weekend, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
He spoke at the graduation of 78 women trained on various skills at Anawim Skills Acquisition Centre, FCT.
Mr Idoko said NACA was convinced that empowering women would help to reduce the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS in the country.
“Empowering women will help us to drive down the prevalence of HIV and ensure the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
“We need to take women as a vulnerable group to address their challenges,” he said.
The ratio aligns with the World Health Organization, WHO’s, statistics that shows women in sub-Saharan Africa ahead of men in the number of those living with HIV.
Globally, the percentage stands at 50 apiece for women and men.
But in Sub Saharan Africa, WHO said several factors are responsible for the variation.
For instance, gender norms related to masculinity can encourage men to have more sexual partners and older men to have sexual relations with much younger women, raising the risk of more infection against women.
“Violence against women (physical, sexual and emotional), which is experienced by 10 to 60% of women (ages 15-49 years) worldwide, increases their vulnerability to HIV,” WHO said in one of its reports.
Forced sex can also contribute to HIV transmission due to tears and lacerations resulting from the use of force, it added.
Mr Idoko said NACA would focus more on prevention by training and empowering women so that they could avoid risky behaviour.
“We believe that any one, for instance, that learns how to make soap will make enough money to take care of her needs.
“This will make her to be self-sufficient and prevent her from engaging in any behaviour that will expose her to HIV,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Gbeneol, said the programme was a step in the right direction to end poverty among vulnerable women.
Represented by Mai Yakubu, Deputy Director, Health Desk, Gbeneol reiterated the commitment of the office to support women and youth empowerment through Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS).
The training was jointly organised by NACA and MGDs Fund under the Socio-economic Empowerment for Vulnerable Women 2013 project. (NAN)
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