The Director-General of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Gambo Aliyu, on Thursday said available data confirmed a decline in new HIV infections in the country.
Mr Aliyu, while speaking at a press conference ahead of the 2022 World AIDS Day (WAD), said new HIV infections gradually declined from 103,404 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021.
He said this is an indication that Nigeria will meet the United Nations’ target of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
He said the global theme for the 2022 WAD is “equalise” and the national theme is “Equalise to end AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services”.
WAD is commemorated on 1 December annually to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and mourn those who have died of the disease.
Mr Aliyu noted that more persons have commenced treatment for HIV.
He said as of the end of September, 1,619,133 persons are on treatment in the country, which he noted represents a significant leap when compared to 838,020 persons that were on HIV treatment in 2017.
He said there is also significant growth in key population treatment centres with 10 in 2017 with a coverage of 16,147 to 118 in 2021 with coverage of over 221,010.
“Our treatment sites also increased from 251 in 2007 to 2,262, in 2020,” he said.
At the conference, UNAIDS Country Director, Leo Zekeng, called for equal access to HIV treatment services as well as addressing other barriers to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Mr Zekeng said although many persons are already on treatment, more still needs to be done to ensure those left behind have equal access to treatment services.
He called for reform of policies restricting people living with HIV and key populations from accessing treatment services.
“To equalise will mean to do everything possible to review the country’s dependency on external resources to fund programmes,” he said.
In his remarks, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the country has made notable achievements in its fight against the HIV epidemic.
Represented by the National Coordinator, National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP), Akudo Ikpeazu, he said 90 per cent of people who are HIV positive know their status.
“98 per cent of those who know their status are on HIV treatment and 95 per cent of those on treatment have attained viral suppression,” he said.
He, however, called for collaborative efforts to address inequalities in accessing treatment and other services.
“We still have unacceptable number of children less than 15 years that are living with HIV, and are difficult to find and place on treatment,” he said.
The minister said the country must remove all structural barriers that are affecting service delivery.
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