The country director, UNAIDS Nigeria, Dr. Erasmus Morah, stated this in Abuja on , at a joint press conference organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in commemoration of 2021 World AIDS Day, themed: ‘End Inequalities, End AIDS, End Pandemics.
He said the states should invest more in the procurement of HIV test kits as part of their counterpart contribution, saying this will go a long way towards halting the decline of HIV positive pregnant women accessing Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services.
“The Nigerian government needs to stop viewing healthcare as a consumption good. Health is a sensible investment, a nation’s source of wealth,” he said.
Morah, however, acknowledged that in 2016, less than 40 per cent of Nigerians living with HIV were on life saving treatment and Nigeria then was one of the countries holding back the continental response to HIV until in 2021 when Nigeria moved from a data poor country on HIV to data rich country on HIV.
“Nigeria is now knocking on the door of 90:90:90, achieving the 90:90:90 target is no longer a target but almost a reality as more than 80 percent of people needing life saving support are now on treatment ,’’ he said.
The director-general of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, noted that the National theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “End Inequalities, End AIDS through Sustainable HIV Financing in Nigeria”.
He said presently, it is estimated that 1.8 million people live with HIV in Nigeria of which 90 per cent are aware of their HIV status, 96 per cent are on treatment and 84 per cent are virally suppressed. “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 said.
According to him, “Evidences such as the Mode of transmission studies and Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) aimed at identifying the source and distribution of new infections and the populations at greatest risk of infection, show that never married individuals, all typology of the key populations and new infections from mother to child transmission are the drivers of the epidemic.
‘So, interventions must be targeted at these population groups ensuring that evidence drives programmes. Conscious effort must be made to address these emerging dynamics if we are to achieve epidemic control and sustain it.”