Nigeria has the highest number of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)-related deaths in the world with 180,000 toll yearly. She also contributes one in every three new infections among children.
Also, only 860,000 out of the estimated 3.4 million patients are on Anti Retro Viral (ART), representing 23.5 per cent.However, the nation has reduced new infections by 20 per cent and related deaths by 15 per cent in the past five years.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his remarks yesterday at an event tagged National HIV Prevention Conference, organised to mark the World AIDS Day 2016 in Abuja said: “Today, more people die of HIV infection in Nigeria than in any other country in the world, with about 180,000 deaths every year. We also have the largest number of newly infected children. Our country contributes one in every three new HIV infections among children in the world.”
He, however, acknowledged the tremendous progress made in the control and prevention of the virus in the country, noting: “We have seen a major decline in the number of people acquiring HIV in the last 10 years. The number of clinics providing HIV counseling and testing has also increased by more than eight-fold and universal access to life-saving HIV treatment has greatly improved, with over 3000 service delivery points nationwide.”
The President added: “By the end of 2015, we had more than 800,000 people living with HIV and AIDS on antiretroviral treatment. More than 10 million Nigerians today know their HIV status. More need to be done if Nigeria is to achieve the 90-90-90 target of an AIDS-free generation by 2030.”
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, lamented that despite several years of intervention, access to paediatric ART services still hovers around 28 per cent with the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) services available to only 30 per cent of pregnant women yearly.
He said the ministry would from next month begin the implementation of strategies to fast-track HIV treatment and PMTCT in the country.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, said Nigeria was only 10 per cent away from reaching the magic tipping point, urging pace if the nation must meet her 2020 target.