Only about 10 per cent of Nigerians have ever taken HIV test, the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, has said.
The agency made this known in a press statement released on Sunday to mark the celebration of Christmas.
“Statistic has shown that only about 10 percent of Nigerians has ever taken an HIV test once”, the Director-General of the agency, Sani Aliyu, said in the statement.
He said this is a major challenge that must be addressed urgently.
“The only gateway to HIV prevention, care and treatment remains HIV counselling and testing. So if we must win the battle, the percentage of Nigerians that test for HIV must move from the current statistics to at least 90 per cent”, Mr. Aliyu said.
He stressed that Nigerians need to know their HIV/AIDS status, as it is the only way to stop the spread of the disease.
“I want all Nigerians to take deliberate and bold steps to know their HIV status.
“Our New Year resolutions must include knowing our HIV status and showing love affection to person’s infected and affected by HIV.”
The Director-General recently expressed concern over the rate of mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria and called for all pregnant women to undergo HIV test.
“Anyone who is pregnant should have an HIV test”, he had said.
Mr. Aliyu urged Nigerians to avoid engaging in acts that can propel the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.
“Christmas is that season of joy where the birth of Christ is celebrated around the World.
“This period, we demonstrate the joy with loved ones by spending quality time together and exchange variety of gift items among ourselves.
“I plead with Nigerians to avoid engaging in risky behaviours that can propel the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.”
Mr. Aliyu advised Nigerians to show love responsibly during this season in order to avoid the spread of HIV.
“In fulfilment of its mandate to curb the spread of this dreaded virus, NACA will like to use this season to remind Nigerians to share and show the symbol of love responsibly. Doing so, we as a nation can halt the spread of HIV in Nigeria.
“NACA is appealing to the general public that, in sharing gifts among our loved ones, we should not share HIV and to also demonstrate our love by avoiding risky sexual behaviours.”