Minister urges renewed commitment to ending AIDS
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has called for a renewed commitment to ending the spread of HIV and AIDS by the year 2030.
He made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, ahead of the commemoration of the December 1, 2022, World AIDS Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that World AIDS Day is an international day annually celebrated to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and to mourn those who died of the disease.
It is observed by UN member states to render an account of HIV response status and plan for the upcoming year.
The day was first observed in 1988 to unite and work toward ending the spread of the scourge. The theme of the 2022 World AIDS Day is: Equalize to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services.
The minister of health, therefore, urged governments at all levels, especially state governments, to step up action in the fight against HIV.
Represented at the news conference by Dr. Akudo Ikpeazu, the Director, National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCP), Ministry of Health, Ehanire, who scored Nigeria high in the HIV response, said 98 per cent of people who already knew their status were on treatment, making new infection reduce.
He, however, stressed the need to end all forms of inequalities that impeded access to HIV prevention and treatment services.
He said that the ministry and stakeholders would continue to find HIV-positive pregnant women for treatment to end Mother-To-Child transmission of the virus.
He added that “we should step up action in identifying and promoting Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.”
Dr. Gambo Aliyu, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, said ending inequality was paramount in ending HIV.
Aliyu explained that unequal access to HIV prevention and treatment services perpetuates HIV among vulnerable population groups.
He said this had made significant progress in the fight against HIV with a decline in HIV prevalence from 3.4 per cent in 2017 to 1.3 per cent in 2018.
He added that “as of the end of September 2022, we have 1,619,133 persons on treatment, which represents a significant leap when
compared to 838,020 persons in 2017.
“Our treatment sites have increased from 251 in 2007 to 2,262 in 2020, as new HIV infections gradually decline from 103,404 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021.”
On his part, Dr. Leo Zekeng, the Country Director, UN Joint Action Against HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), called for the total dismantling of all forms of inequalities impeding access to HIV prevention and treatment.
Zekeng, who reiterated the call for equal access to treatment, said it was time for full implementation of anti-discrimination law in the country.
Also, Mr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, stressed the need for improved Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme.
Ibrahim urged all to join hands in detecting and preventing HIV for a greater and healthier future generation.