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Nigeria on track to end AIDS by 2030, says NACA Boss

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The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Gambo Aliyu, has said that Nigeria is progressing towards ending Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as a public health problem by 2030 and has made commendable success, especially in the past three years.

Briefing journalists on the 2023 World AIDS Day in Abuja, Aliyu revealed that an estimated 1.8 million Nigerians live with the HIV virus, out of which over 1.6 million have been placed on treatment.

He observed that Nigeria was witnessing a decline in the number of people contracting new HIV infection, and “wants to sustain the tempo by ensuring that Nigeria is not only leading Africa but leading globally in terms of progress towards ending AIDS”.

Aliyu stressed the need to end inequality in access to HIV services, stop stigma and discrimination and ensure that no one is left behind.

He said: “Nigeria, like many other countries, has made significant strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but there is still much to be done to achieve the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Nigeria has the second-largest burden of HIV infection. Currently, a total of 1.8 million persons are estimated to be living with HIV in Nigeria, out of which about 1.63 million are already on the lifesaving medication of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

According to him, the national average of mother-to-child transmission rate of 22 per cent is driven by a large number of states with transmission rates above 25 per cent and a few states with rates below 15 per cent while Nigeria is responsible for about 30 per cent of the world’s gap in Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

Aliyu stated that every year millions of dollars are pumped into Nigeria to make sure that the country gets it right and Nigeria is getting it right, adding that the country needs to ensure that all structures required to sustain the response beyond 2030 without Nigeria slipping back into HIV endemic country are put in place.

He commended the support of our development partners and global communities, including UNAIDS, United States government through PEPFAR, Global Funds for HIV/AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (ATM) and other partners for their indefatigable efforts over the years that have made Nigeria’s HIV response the most resilient globally. The government is poised to continue to keep this spirit going to achieve the global target of ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.

Also speaking, Country Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr Leo Zekeng said that over 40 million people have died since HIV was discovered in the 80s, but added that tremendous progress has been made in the fight against HIV not only in Nigeria but globally.

He disclosed that about 30 million people globally are on treatment stressing that AIDS is no longer the deadly disease we used to know considering that those affected by the disease who take their medications religiously can live a normal life. Zekeng also observed that new HIV infections have declined but we still have children living with HIV that we cannot find and put on treatment.

‘’We need to find those that are hard to reach and place them on treatment. As we pursue the last mile, we need to put communities at the centre of response and end inequalities in access to HIV services”, he added.

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