Juliana Taiwo- Obalonye, Doris Obinna and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Akwa Ibom, Benue and Rivers states top the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus and Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) prevalence in Nigeria.
This was contained in the the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), 2018 Report officially launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, yesterday.
That was the president’s his first formal appearance at the Banquet Hall, State House, in Abuja, after the February 23 presidential election.
The survey was launched last year, to assess the true state of HIV burden in Nigeria and possibly, offer suggestions on how best to approach the interventions.
The key findings of the survey underlined the fact that the prevalence was significantly high among women and youths of 15-49 years; who are more sexually active.
Prevalence recorded among females was significantly higher at an estimated 1.9 per cent when compared with male prevalence which was estimated at 0.9 percent.
The survey also noted that females make up majority of people living with HIV overall and, in all geopolitical zones, with the exception of the North West, where the reverse is the case.
Regardless, the president, who said there is no need for celebration, yet, disclosed that there are still millions of people living with HIV/ÀIDS who are yet to access treatment.
He also added that the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data, for the country, is crucial for planning effective health interventions in arresting the epidemic.
“We have paid deliberate attention towards effecting change in our health sector and this is in line with our determination as we commence full implementation of the Health Act that will ensure that every Nigerians has access to comprehensive health services.
“Abia and Taraba havecommenced and, the Federal Government, on its part, would ensure that HIV treatment programme is properly funded this year and accommodation made to resource future expansions in the coming years,” the president said.
He, however, noted that the data would provide government with the crucial information needed to plan a more accountable programme.
While calling on the private sector to establish an HIV/AIDS Trust Fund, to help Nigeria find solutions, the president thanked the United States of America, the United Nations, Global Fund and other partners, for the success of the survey which was completed in nine months.
He added: “I have directed NACA and the Ministry of Health to charge a new strategic plan for a way forward, for us to collectively pushed towards the last mile.
Buhari also urged the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the Ministry of Health, and other stakeholders, particularly states with high burden, to have detailed consultation; so as to channel a way forward and see that the burden is brought to minimum level.
In his keynote address, the Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, noted that about 1.9 millio people are infected with HIV/AIDS, while 1.1 million are on treatment, while 900 thousand infected are yet to access treatment.
“The figure is a mixed epidemic. The report precisely stated that the estimated number of people living with HIV is highest in the South South geopolitical zone, with Akwa-Ibom state in the lead. It was followed by the North Central and lowest prevalence recorded in North East; according to NACA.
“NAIIS is the outcome of partnership, planning, implementation and analysis of the result. Over 200,000 survey was conducted, using over 3,000 people.
“With commitment of the federal government, the battle against HIV/AIDS is almost won as Nigeria is ranking fourth globally,” Adewole added.
Also, NACA Director General, Dr. Sally Aliu, in his opening remarks, said despite efforts, cases of HIV/AIDS are on the increase.
“The findings have positioned Nigeria to assess itself against internationally recognised standards and targets. It’s clearly spelt what we need to do to eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2030.”