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General News of Monday, 22 February 2021

Source: Punch

1.3 million Nigerians with HIV on treatment - NACA

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS says 1, 354, 314 out of the 1.9 million Nigerians living with HIV are now on treatment.

This is according to a report titled, ‘Stewardship of the HIV Response in Nigeria 2007-2021’ which was published by NACA in commemoration of its 14th anniversary.

The report states that when NACA was established in 2007, only 124, 567 Nigerians were on treatment. The new figure represents an increase of 987 per cent.

The report further reveals that between July 2019 and December 2020, the number of persons on treatment rose from 1, 062, 019 to 1, 354, 314 representing an increase of 410, 169 in just 17 months.

Speaking at the event which was attended by several dignitaries virtually, the Country Director UNAIDS, Erasmus Morah, said Nigeria was on the path to meeting the 90-90-90 target set by the UN.

The 90-90-90 initiative seeks to ensure that 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Morah advised NACA not to be complacent but to ensure that the tempo is sustained.

He said, “Nigeria for the first time is actually is on the path to achieving the 90-90-90 based on what we are doing. I am actually blessed to be in Nigeria.”

Also speaking, the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said one of the biggest achievements of the agency was the success of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, the largest in the world.

He said the survey was able to provide more accurate data on the persons living with HIV and other vital information.

The NACA boss, however, said the agency had not been without challenges, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder that it was not time for the agency to sit on its laurels.

“Despite these notable achievements and many more, the HIV response is inundated with challenges which threaten to erode the success achieved. Chief among them is the need for strategic and real time data for decision making as well as the financial resources to prosecute the fight against the virus,” he said.

In his remarks, the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said NACA had played a huge role in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He said some of the information the NCDC was working with was provided by NACA.

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