150,000 children are born HIV positive in Nigeria
Gloria Essien, Abuja
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says Nigeria is the highest producer of HIV positive children globally.
The Country Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Erasmus Morah, made the disclosure at the 2021 World Aids Day World Press Briefing, in Abuja.
He noted that while Nigeria has achieved a lot in placing over 1.6 million people living with HIV (PLWHIV) on treatment, more children are left out of the lifesaving HIV treatment services.
He said that according to data from the Federal Government, about 150,000 children are HIV positive, while only 88,000 of them are on treatment which This leaves over 62,000 children living with HIV without treatment.
He called for more collaborative efforts to reduce the prevalence of HIV among children in the country.
“More people have been placed on HIV treatment during COVID-19 than any other country in the world. Rather than being a problem, Nigeria has turned COVID-19 into an opportunity. The coverage for adult is over 80 per cent, while for children it is less than 50 per cent. Nigeria is the biggest producer globally of HIV positive children. One in seven babies born globally with HIV is a Nigerian”. Dr. Moran said.
On his part, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said that over the last few years, Nigeria has recorded significant progress in the war against HIV/AIDS in the country.
“A recalibration of the HIV epidemic showed a significant decline in people living 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 impacts 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.” Dr. Aliyu said.
Similarly, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme, Dr Akudo Ikpeazu, added: “As at the end of June 2021, the aggregate number of all people living with HIV on treatment in Nigeria is 1,629,427. For 0 to 14 years, 57,280; for adult male 15 years and above, 551,106; for adult females 15 years and above, 1,021,041.”
The National Coordinator, Network of People With HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN, Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim says he wants stakeholders to focus more on those without access to HIV Treatment to end the epidemic in the country.
According to him, much attention had been given to those on HIV Treatment which he commended but however noted that neglecting others could hamper on the success recorded in the fight against the disease.
He raised concerns on the over dependence on Foreign donors in the HIV response in the country called on the Federal Government to look for ways to generate domestic funding through Public-Private Partnership to sustain it’s mandate against the disease.
The World AIDS Day Joint Conference by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) was organised with the theme: ‘End Inequality, End AIDS through sustainable financing,’