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Nigeria, 4th country with highest HIV/AIDS Victims, says Minister

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As 1.9 million Nigerians live with HIV

Gift Wada with Agency Report

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, on Thursday said Nigeria had been ranked the 4th country with the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The minister disclosed this at the launch of the 2018 Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) result by President Muhamnadu Buhari at the Banquet Hall of Aso Rock, Presidential villa.

The result of the survey presented indicates that 1.9 million Nigerians currently live with HIV

The  survey  stated that HIV prevalence estimates varied across Nigeria with the highest prevalence in South South zone and the lowest prevalence in North West zone.

The survey presented for each geopolitical zone in the country for prevalence among persons age 15-64 years reads: North Central 2.1 per cent; North East 1.1 per cent; North West 0.6 per cent; South East 1.9 per cent; South-South 3.1 per cent, and South West 1.2 per cent.

The  survey however indicated that the National Prevalence of HIV dropped from 3.0 per cent in 2014 to 1.4 per cent

President Muhammad Buhari while presenting the survey said despite the drop in the HIV prevalence to 1.4 per cent, Nigeria cannot still celebrate because currently about a million of Nigerians with the virus without on treatment.

Buhari said  the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data for the country was crucial for planning effective health intervention to arrest the HIV epidemic and rid the country of it.

He added that an end  to the epidemic would also require a more coordinated  response.

Further, the report indicated that almost half of people living with HIV in Nigeria achieved viral suppression.

The health minister speaking, said this improvement was possible due to the huge committee the present administration had channelled towards the eradication of the disease.

He said that South Africa, India and Mozambique were ranked ahead of Nigeria with the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS.

According to him, the results of this survey will guide and inform government policies, strategies and programmes on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.

“I want to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari, public and private organisations, the U.S. Government that supported the survey and Nigerians for their cooperation during the survey.

“I want to also seize this opportunity to pay tribute to those who died during the process of the survey.

“Nigeria has moved from being the second country with the highest number of people living with AIDS which was ranked in 2014 with 3.1 million infected people but now fourth country with about 1.9 million people living with the scourge.

“From the 1.9 million Nigerians, over 1 million are currently on the live saving treatment,” he said.

Dr Sani Aliyu, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), said that the generated survey would be taken to state governors who would be advised to latch on it to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their states.

He said the survey was the best in the world because of the non-interference policy employed and the use of better quality laboratories.

According to him, NAIIS is the largest HIV/AIDS specific single country survey ever done in the world which is truly representative of the entire population.

He noted that the U.S had also assisted the organisation in its goal of eradicating AIDS in the country as it supported Nigeria with $70 million to undertake the survey.

“We will ensure that we focus our efforts on ensuring those infected with HIV achieve viral suppression, minimising the risk of HIV transmission and moving Nigeria closer to controlling the HIV epidemic.

“We truly appreciate the effort of organisations which have supported this survey and made it a reality, we look forward to more collaboration to ensure we achieve 2030 target of eradicating the epidemic.

“I appreciate Mr President for adequate funding of the survey which was done in the most efficient manner and it is the largest survey done in nine months.

“Also, we thank the United States of America for assisting us to ensure our goals are achieved,” he said.

Aliyu assured that the survey would provide programme managers and policy makers with a more detailed and specific understanding of HIV epidemic in the country.

He said this would guide the scale up of treatment and prevention services across all age groups.

Mr Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), commended NAIIS for a job well done, noting that the result of the survey will be a game changer for Nigeria.

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