2021 World AIDS Day: Nigeria fights disease after 35 years of first case

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Since the first case of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, was detected in Lagos State in 1986, Nigeria and other countries of the world have continued to battle the disease which has remained a global heath challenge.

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, HIV, since its first case was recorded in Congo in the 1920s has claimed over 36.3 million lives across the world while about 37.7 million are still living with the disease as it continues to be a major global public health issue.

Leakblast recalls that the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime, UNODC, had in 2019, ranked Nigeria as the third among countries with the highest burden of HIV infection in the world.

Over 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with the virus across the country. The UN agency has also revealed that HIV and AIDS are far more prevalent among those in prisons and high-risk drug users, particularly people who inject drugs (PWIDs).

A recent UNODC study on HIV prevalence in Nigerian prisons and on drug use in the country has revealed that 2.8% of inmates and 9% of people who inject drugs (PWIDs) are living with HIV/AIDS.

The WHO, in a statement on Monday called on African countries to put more efforts in reducing new infections, lamenting that the continent in 2020, recorded highest cases in the world.

READ ALSO: NACA: Unmarried Men, Women Responsible For Spike In HIV Infections

The statement which was issued by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti to mark the 2021 World AIDS Day, revealed that the virus claims about 1,300 lives in Africa everyday.

The statement reads in part, “We cannot afford to lose focus on the urgent need to end the inequities that drive AIDS and other epidemics around the world. It has been 40 years since the first HIV cases were reported. Yet, in Africa and globally, it remains a major public health concern.

“Last year, two out of every three new HIV infections occurred in the African Region, corresponding to almost 2 500 new HIV infections every day. Sadly, AIDS claimed the lives of 460 000 people, or a shocking 1 300 every day, in spite of free access to effective treatment”.

Leakblast recalls that the Director-General of National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, had assured that the Federal Government of Nigeria is working assiduously and hopeful to ensure the end of HIV/AIDS transmission by 2024.

Speaking while declaring open a five-day Capacity Strengthening of Key and Vulnerable Populations in Access to HIV Services Efficiency in Sokoto a few months ago, Aliyu noted that Nigeria had recorded great successes and ranked among the five countries with minimum challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, “Nigeria is working toward ending the transmission of HIV/AIDS in the next three years, which is 2024, less than the targeted year of 2030 by the UN.”

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