About 1.8 million Nigerians are currently living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has claimed.
The agency made this revelation in a statement it released to mark the commemoration of the World’s AIDS Day.
According to NACA, there is a decline in HIV/AIDS deaths and new infections nationwide, unlike what obtains in other parts of the world where the scourge is on the rise.
The agency said the Federal Government had spent more than N18 billion in three years on HIV capital projects and HIV no longer kills now as long as people know they have it.
“We have an estimate of about 1.8 million and we are working with our data to know the actual number that is now very active, that is, they are alive and receiving medications.
“Those are the ones we count because they are the ones we know, they are alive, on our register, and they know they have HIV.
“Those ones that are no longer alive but are in our register, we will take them out and at the end of the day, we will have an alternative number.
“So, we are working on our data to get that exact number but our estimation is less than two million people that are currently living with HIV in Nigeria,” said NACA’s Director General, Dr. Gambo Gumel Aliyu.
Also speaking, Deputy Director of Prevention and Social Behaviour Change Communicator at NACA, Dr. Daniel Ndukwe, said the agency was presently reviewing the National Strategic Plan for the country.
Ndukwe said the new plan was better, with more informed response than the previous one, adding that the plan has a gender dimension to HIV.
He stressed that women were more vulnerable to HIV due to their biological make-up as well as socio and cultural factors.
Meanwhile, the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) has said that in 650,000 people were lost to AIDS and 1.5 million people newly acquired HIV, while there were an estimated 38.4 million (33.9–43.8 million) people living with HIV at the end of 2021, two-thirds of whom (25.6 million) are in Africa.
The Strategic Information Admin, UNAIDS, Dr. Takpa Koubaguine, said ‘Equalise to end AIDS’, the theme of the year’s World AIDS Day commemoration, was to give chance to everybody to access their health right, HIV prevention and access to treatment.
Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said some 110,000 youths under age 19 died last year from AIDS-related causes, noting that coupled with 310,000 newly infected, the total number of young people living with HIV stands at 2.7 million.
UNICEF warned in its latest global snapshot on children, that HIV and AIDS progress in HIV prevention and treatment has nearly flattened over the past three years, with many regions still not at pre-pandemic service coverage.
In its own submission, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called on leaders in the country to ensure zero new infections, zero stigma and discrimination, especially in young girls.
Country Programme Director, AHF Nigeria, Dr. Echey Ijezie, said: “This is because our data is showing that of the 7,600 new infections that happen in young people in 2021, 6,800 of them are girls, while less than one million are boys.
“So, if we invest more in girls, we secure their future, we secure their future partner and the life of the child she will give birth to.
“This is a call to Nigeria as a country; we have gone a long way in HIV response, we have good plans, now we need to implement with our monies, energy and commitment,” she said.