As the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS continues globally, Nigeria has been urged to do all it takes to end inequality among persons living with the virus The call was made by the country director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Erasmus Morah Morah said Nigeria must not rest its oars in the effort to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their newborns.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has said that there is an urgent need to tackle the long-standing inequalities existing in the accessment of HIV treatment commodities among people living with the virus. The country director of UNAIDS, Erasmus Morah, said this while speaking at the press conference organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDSS (NACA) in Abuja on Wednesday, November 24.
The conference attended by Africanglitz.com reporter was in commemoration of the 2021 World AIDS Day themed, “End Inequalities, End AIDS Through Sustainable HIV Financing in Nigeria.” Morah said while the dreaded inequality has only increased, tackling inequality is key to ending HIV/AIDS among key populations living with the virus.
Commending Nigeria’s effort in being party to the promise made at the June 2021 UN General Assembly High-Level meeting in New York, Morah said the country has put a befitting spin to the global theme for WAD.
Nigeria is the biggest producer of HIV positive babies Further speaking on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, Morah described Nigeria as the largest producer of HIV positive babies. He said one in seven babies testing positive for HIV is alarming and needs to be tackled with all available resources. Urging the media to take the centre stage in asking the right questions about preventing mother-to-child transmission of the disease, the UNAIDS country director said there is a need to ensure that HIV commodities reach the most neglected population.
“To end this, our question should be who is not on the bus, who doesn’t have access to HIV commodities, treatment and prevention services.”
Progress recorded by Nigeria in curbing the spread of HIV
In his address, the director-general of NACA, Aliyu Gambo, Nigeria has recorded significant progress in its war against HIV/AIDS.
Gambo said a recalibration of the HIV epidemic showed a significant decline in HIV prevalence from 5.8 in 2001 to 1.3 in 2018. He also said that it is presently estimated that 1.8 million people living with HIV in Nigeria of which 90% are aware of their HIV status, 96% are on treatment and 84% are virally suppressed.
The NACA DG said:
“Despite the negative impact of the lockdown instituted as a public health measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 across the world, the HIV programme in Nigeria proved resilient with an increase in the number of people placed on treatment.” He added that various activities including a road walk, Jumat prayer and thanksgiving services, adolescent and young person events including debate among schools, HIV testing services and many others have been outlined to commemorate the 2021 WAD.
Gambo called on the stakeholders in the national response of HIV to ensure they play their roles in epidemic control and sustainability. He said: “So, interventions must be targeted at these population groups ensuring that evidences drives programme.” “Conscious effort must be made to address these emerging dynamics if we are to achieve epidemic control and sustain it.”