The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said that a recent study carried out by the agency has shown that unmarried men and women make up the highest number of persons infected with HIV infections in the country.
Disclosing this to newsmen at a media parley on Monday, August 9, the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said the study has also shown that women who have never been married contributed more to the HIV infections than men in the country.
Aliyu said while never-married individuals contributed to 64 per cent of new HIV infections in the country, new infections among female sex workers (FSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) make up 91 per cent of all new infections among adults.
“The younger generation who are never married are not using prevention. They don’t listen or want to have anything to do with HIV services. If we can reach them and connect them, we can come closer to reducing the pandemic. The younger people living with the virus need to be reached with services to curtail transmission among them and newborn.
To reduce child infections due to mother-to-child transmission, we must go beyond the hospital and go to the communities to deliver services. We are working at hospitals and community level. They now have more access. Expectant mothers who don’t go for antenatal service are now reached at the comfort of their homes,” he said.
Speaking further, Aliyu said
”NACA, in collaboration with development partners, has been working tirelessly in coming up with strategies to halt the spread of the HIV and sustain the epidemic.
To this end, the Mode of Transmission Study (MOT), which focuses on identifying the sources of new HIV infections in the country and was first conducted in 2009, was recently repeated, using an updated model known as the Incidence Pattern Model (IPM).
The never married population is the largest source of new infections and is mostly between the ages of 17 to 34 for females and 19 to 31 for men. Special efforts are needed to be made to reach this population in schools, workplaces, gathering spots and through the social media.
There are new infections through newborns due to low coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). Efforts will be targeted at encouraging women to attend Antenatal Care (ANC), especially in high prevalence states.”
There should be increased efforts, especially for the highest risk FSW and MSM, which have shown that even though the population is small, prevalence remains high among sex workers and MSM, despite the high levels of reported condom use.
Even though there is a law against MSM in Nigeria, the law does not deny them access to services or restrain us from delivering service to them. They can assess our HIV services across the country”