The number of Nigerian men and women currently ling with the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus has been revealed.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said the Nigerian HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) indicates that about 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with the disease.
The Director-General of the agency, Sani Aliyu, made this known during the announcement of the NAIIS result at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja on Thursday.
He said the percentage of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria, among the age group of 15-49 years, is 1.4 per cent (1.9 per cent among females and 0.9 per cent among males.)
He also said viral suppression among PLHIV aged 15 to 49 years old with access to treatment stands at 42.3 per cent (45.3 per cent among women and 34.5 per cent among men).
The new data differentiates HIV prevalence by state, indicating an epidemic that is having a greater impact in certain areas of the country.
The South-South zone of the country has the highest HIV prevalence, at 3.1 per cent among those aged 15–49 years. HIV prevalence among the same age group in the North Central zone is 2.0 per cent, and in the South East zone (1.9%). The prevalence is lower in the South West zone (1.1 per cent), the North East zone (1.1 per cent) and the North West zone (0.6 per cent).
Mr Aliyu said it is important for all people living with HIV to get treatment and achieve viral suppression.
He said the government and its partners have what it takes to support people who are HIV-positive, “to provide treatment, to protect their families and to help people live long and healthy lives.”
The federal government launched the National AIDS survey in June 2018 to determine the true distribution of HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the country.
The survey, which is the largest in the world reached around 220,000 people in about 100,000 households and was conducted between July and December 2018.
Before the commencement of the survey, about three million Nigerians were estimated to be living with HIV and about 1.1 million of them currently receiving treatment.
In his goodwill message, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, said the improved understanding of the country’s HIV epidemic would allow Nigeria to better reach people living with HIV and people at higher risk of acquiring HIV.
“I commend the Government of Nigeria and its partners for conducting this ambitious survey, which provides us with a much better understanding of the country’s HIV epidemic.
“While it is fantastic news that there are fewer people living with HIV in Nigeria than previously thought, we must not let down our guard.
“Let us use the results of this survey to better focus our delivery of HIV prevention, treatment and care services to the people in the greatest need and ensure that Nigeria gets on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.” Mr Sidibé said.