Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa has disclosed that Nigeria had 1.6 million People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) on treatment out of the 1.9 million PLHIVs.
Alausa stated this on Thursday, November 30, 2023, at a press briefing held in Abuja ahead of the 2023 World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day is an annual event that is celebrated globally to collectively reflect on the past, present, and future of HIV/AIDS. This year’s celebration with the theme “Let Communities Lead” is an urgent call to action urging communities to take charge in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Minister noted that, communities, being at the epicentre of the struggle against AIDS possess insights and understanding of the specific challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We cannot achieve lasting progress in our battle against HIV/AIDS without the active involvement of our 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, grass-roots activists and the entire community and primary health systems”.
He said services had been made available, accessible, and at no cost to the clients through regular procurement of Anti Retroviral Drugs, drugs for opportunistic infections, test kits, condoms, diagnostic equipment, laboratory reagents, and consumables in health facilities by the Government and HIV/AIDS health sector stakeholders.
He averred that these efforts were facilitated through demand and awareness creation for HIV/AIDS. services in communities, as well as the presence of an anti-discrimination act that allowed people living with HIV to live their lives normally in their communities and at their workplaces.
In addition, the Minister informed that, HIV/AIDS prevention activities and treatment must be reinvigorated if the country and the world at large are to stay on the fast track of ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.
“The time to stop the spread of HIV by redoubling efforts is now. We should continue to sustain and consolidate our efforts to end HIV/AIDS by the year 2030 in line with global strategy for HIV Through our collective actions and responsibilities, we can eliminate HIV from our great country Nigeria”, he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman House Committee on AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (ATM), Amobi Ogah said the National Assembly was a keen observer of the achievements recorded by the Department of Public Health and promised continued support to the department with legislative measures and interventions that would greatly impact on their capacity to effectively deliver on their mandate.
On his part, National Coordinator, National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Dr. Adeboboola Bashorun announced that, “94% of people living with HIV in Nigeria know
their status, all the people who know their status were on treatment and 90% of those on treatment were virally suppressed”.
Dr. Bashorun said the country was on track towards achieving the UNAIDS 95.95.95 targets and epidemic control by 2030.
He noted that, despite many challenges, the Nigerian HIV programme had improved and become more effective over the years. Also, novel approaches were continually being implemented to improve programme coordination.