On World AIDS Day Nigeria Celebrates Huge Strides But Still Looks Ahead To Do Much More
By Iwedi Ojinmah 2 months ago
Yesterday, December 1st, the world celebrated World AIDS Day and Nigeria joined in after significant improvement in the country’s response to HIV in recent years.
This is evident in the preliminary results of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIS) released in March.
The survey, which cost an eye-popping $100 million involved 185 survey teams and covered more than 200,000 people. It indicated that there are 1.9 million people under the age of 64 living with HIV in Nigeria presently an amazing 40 per cent reduction from the country’s official national HIV prevalence estimates for 2017.
Nevertheless, despite this huge success gargantuan gaps in testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV still make the goal of ending the epidemic by 2030 far out of reach the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS ( confided.
But huge gaps in testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV still make the goal of ending the epidemic by 2030 in Nigeria out of reach, according to findings from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS .
For instance, Nigeria accounted for 37,000 of the world’s 160,000 new cases of babies born with HIV in 2016.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during last year’s World AIDS Day celebration had announced the federal government’s commitment to ending the epidemic by 2030 and intends to show its commitment by “increasing its 2019 budget on HIV treatment to accommodate additional 50,000 people on treatmentRelated: Lassa Fever Hits Osun State, Kills 2
Due to this the number of sites providing services to prevent mother-to-child transmission has increased with billions of naira spent in providing test kits for pregnant women through initiatives such as the Save One Million Lives (SOML) programme.
There is also the need to improve training on HIV prevention which has mostly not covered many of the traditional birth attendants so this leaves room for transmission.
Same goes for many faith centres where many of those who can afford to deliver at health facilities and attend antenatal programmes still end up in churches and with traditional birth attendants.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes so far have focused primarily on preventing transmission from an HIV-infected woman to her infant and not much attention has been given to improving the knowledge and awareness of HIV transmission and prevention among pregnant women especially in rural communities.
Nigeria’s latest National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), revealed only about half of the population of women know that HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy, labour/delivery or breastfeeding.
The FGN hopes to change all of this with the sound implementation of proper education and an awareness blitz that will cut the infection rate and make its 2023 target more of a reality than a pipedream