According to a study conducted by UNIAIDS and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), about 1.9 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria. However, the federal government of Nigeria has released a result that indicates an HIV prevalence of 1.4%.
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This is contrary to the previous estimates of 2.8%. During the launching of the Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework (2019-2021) held in Abuja recently, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, acknowledged that there are now fewer people living with HIV in the country than before. This is a clear indication that the country has improved drastically with preventive measures and response to the epidemic in recent years.
Optimism of possibly ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030
The president also expressed optimism that the end of AIDS by 2030 might become a possibility for Nigeria. He went ahead to urge all stakeholders and relevant agencies not to relent in their effort to bring the epidemic to an abrupt end.
Mike Sidibe, who is the Executive Director of UNAIDS, acknowledged the new estimates as a welcomed development. He went further to express satisfaction about the country’s present disposition towards HIV and AIDS. That it will allow the country to reach out to more people living with the virus, he also expressed optimism that the end of the epidemic is drawing nearer come 2030.
According to the new estimates, there are more women (15-49 years) living with HIV than men. The national prevalence is 1.4% among adults between the ages of 15 and 49 years. HIV prevalence in children is about 0.2% of the total population of people living with the virus. However, several NGO’s and agencies have risen to stop the spread of HIV among children and infants.
With the new estimates, it is expected that the federal government can better invest in preventive measures and conduct effective planning for the control and prevention of HIV and AIDS in the country. More so, some populations will be controlled and limited to the barest minimum, such as female sex workers. When the virus is heavily suppressed, the rate of transmission through sex will be significantly reduced.
The Minister of Health
In a speech delivered by the Minister of Health, Isaac F. Adewole, he opined that people living with the virus need to have access to healthcare and retroviral drugs to achieve a high degree of suppression. He also said that pregnant women should have access to antenatal care and undergo proper testing for the virus during each pregnancy. “Early detection is the key to controlling the spread of the epidemic. Let’s ensure the next generation is free from HIV,” he concluded.
The new data generated are more accurate than the previous estimates because they are based on an enhanced methodology and an expanded surveillance system. Over the years, the number of facilities and agencies responsible for HIV prevention has tripled. The number of mother-to-child prevention centers has increased drastically. This has led to an increase in the response rate to the epidemic.