BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed that 1.6 million persons are on treatment out of the 1.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).
Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate stated this on Friday in Abuja at the 2023 World AIDS Day celebration with the theme: “Let Communities Lead.”
The significant decline in the number of PLHIVS is an indication that Nigeria may likely attain the United Nations’ target of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
Pate stated that the decline is evident in the laudable progress made in the last two decades towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, saying that the current HIV treatment coverage is above 90 percent.
HIV causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) that weakens the immune system by destroying cells involved in the body’s defense against the infection and other harmful invaders.
The United Nations had designated December 1, annually as World AIDS Day to support people living with HIV/AIDS and remember those that lost their lives to AIDS.
Pate pointed out that Nigeria cannot achieve lasting progress in the battle against HIV/AIDS without the active involvement of the communities.
“Our communities and community structures are not merely recipients of care; they are champions of change, the catalysts for progress, and the backbone of our collective resilience.
“Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with HIV/AIDS, key populations, adolescent and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organisations, grassroots activists and the entire community and primary health systems,” he added.
The theme for this year’s celebration highlighted the need for communities to take charge in the fight against HIV/AIDS, just as it emphasised the pivotal impact of communities in shaping the HIV response.
Pate noted that the tremendous efforts made by successive governments and other stakeholders to control the HIV epidemic by averting new transmission and improving lives cannot be over emphasised.
The miinister recalled that in November 2020, Nigeria joined a multi country learning network, the HIV Coverage Quality, and Impact Network (CQUIN) under the leadership of the National AIDS and STI Control Program, with the aim of sharing knowlede to support the coordination and scale-up of Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) for HIV in Nigeria.
DSD is a responsive and client- centred approach that simplifies and adapts HIV services across the prevention, treatment, care, and support that cascade to serve individual needs and preference and reduce unnecessary burden on the health system.
Pate informed that HIV/AIDS prevention activities and treatment must be reinvigorated if the country and the world at large would meet the target of ending AIDS epidemic by the year 2030,
To this end, he unveiled the National HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis and STIs policy documents that would be used to strengthen the existing framework for action, in order to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS STIs and viral hepatitis as well as manage their impact.
The documents are National Guidelines for Viral Hepatitis Treatment and Care 2023; Information, Education and Communication materials for PMTCT demand creation and scale-up-2023; and SOPS for PMTCT scale up.
Others are jingles in 10 languages for PMTCT scale-up-2023 and IEC materials for HIV self-testing scale up-2022.
BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja