The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says the treatment of at least 1.5 million People Living with HIV (PLHIV) is key to sustaining the control of HIV annually in Nigeria.
The Director General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, as all is set to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
Annually celebrated on Dec. 1 since 1988, World AIDS Day is an international observance day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who died of the condition.
The theme for the 2020 observance is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact” to focus more attention to the HIV scourge, increase awareness and knowledge, as well as speak out against stigma.
The NACA boss, who shed more light on the 2020 quarterly HIV facts sheet, expressed the agency’s commitment to meet the target of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for epidemic control in the next three years, saying it would cost about N75 billion.
He said “we have invested 6.2 billion dollars in treatment; the current HIV prevalence rate nationwide and in the last 10 years is 1.3 million.
“Over five billion dollars of the 6.2 billion dollars (about N2.1 Trillion) comes from international donors.”
Aliyu, however, reiterated the willingness of the agency to drastically reduce transmission through regular testing and medication.
According to him, HIV will only be at the verge of being controlled when 99 per cent of people living with the virus are placed on drugs.
The director general announced the agency’s plan to bring in states into the sponsorship of treatment to sustain the control of the epidemic.
He asserted the capacity of the agency to simultaneously fight HIV while COVID-19 lasted.
He said that NACA deployed its infrastructure to support COVID-19 with over 15,000 HIV community volunteers from stakeholders who supported contact tracing, social mobilisation and fight against stigma and discrimination.
He noted that “25 to 30 per cent of COVID-19 tests were conducted in six HIV mega laboratories.
“HIV sample transfer mechanism was replicated for COVID-19 response in four states.”
The NACA director general, however, explained that COVID-19 impacted negatively on HIV response, with a decline in Antiretroviral Drugs (ART) from expected 39,450 to 21,495 in April (45.5 per cent drop).
He said COVID-19 also affected the provision of HIV services, with a drop in viral load testing and clinical activities.
Meanwhile, an estimated 1.8 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria, with Akwa Ibom having the highest prevalence rate, suggesting that 13 out of every 1000 persons selected in the country at random are likely to test positive. (NAN)