World Aids Day: Nigeria records decline in new HIV infections

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BY Chioma Obinna, Vincent Ujumadu, and Samuel Oyadongha.
Nigeria recorded 300,000 new cases in 2012., even as the country was ranked as number eight among 12 countries in the world that have recorded a decline in the new Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, HIV, infection rate.

However,Benue state still leads other states in the federation in HIV prevalence with a prevalence rate of 10.7 percent,while Kebbi state, with 1.0% recorded the least prevalence rate in the country.

Benue

State is closely followed by Akwa Ibom with 10 percent,BayelsaState; 9.1 percent and Anambra, 8.1 percent.

InKadunawhich recorded 5.1 percent from seven percent in 2008, Governor Patrick Yakowa promised to ensure zero prevalence in the years to come, as according to him, government would do everything within its power to educate the people and provide drugs for HIV/AIDS patients..

Statistics released by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research at a programme to mark this year’s World AIDS Day yesterday in Lagosshowed that Nigeriaand 11 other countries recorded 20 percent reduction in new infection rate between 2001 and 2011.
OFFICIALS of the Anambra State AIDS Control Agency, ANSACA, expressed worry over the 8.7% HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the state which ranks it fourth in the country, saying that serious measures were being adopted to reduce the scourge.

TheBayelsaStategovernment has reaffirmed its commitment to the wellbeing of people living with HIV/AIDS, according to Governor Seriake Dickson who spoke at a charity football match between the Creek Haven Young Stars and Creek Haven All Stars to mark the 2012 World HIV/AIDS Day at the Government House, Yenagoa.

Dickson said government has approved stipends for patients  through the State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS,  BYSACA.

Sharp decline in the number of people being infected with HIV since 2001 have occurred in the Caribbean (42 percent)and sub-SaharanAfrica(25percent). But the prevalence increased in the Middle East and North Africa, while nine percent was recorded inEast Asia.

However, there are no decline in HIV related death rates both inNigeriaandAfrica. According to the statistics, in 2008, the annual death rate inNigeriawas 192,000 but has risen to 217,148 deaths which may not be unconnected to lack of access to treatment. Out of 1.5 million Nigerians confirmed to be HIV positive, only 500,000 have access to antiretroviral drugs, which is key to managing the disease according to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Director- General, Prof John Idoko.

Reeling out these statistics in Review of the National Response to HIV& AIDS”, the Dr. Oliver Ezechi, Clinical Sciences Division, NIMR, explained that the global theme for this year is “Getting to Zero AIDS Related Deaths” while the national theme is “Resourcing the National Response towards getting to the zero related AIDS deaths”

Speaking in another forum to mark the Day inLagos, Director/Head, Clinical Services Department,Institute of Human VirologyNigeria, Dr Ernest  Ekong stressed that there is need for all to be committed to achieving zero new infections, zero discrimination against people living with HIV and zero AIDS related deaths.

Ekong  further noted that : “Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20s(4.9 percent)  living with HIV and accounting for 69 percent of the people living with HIV worldwide. Although the regional prevalence of HIV infection is nearly 25 times higher in Sub-Saharan Africa than in Asia, almost 5 million people are living with HIV in South-South-East andEast Asiacombined.

“After Sub –Saharan Africa, the regions most heavily affected are the Caribbean and Eastern Europe andCentral Asia, where 1.0 percent of adults where living with HIV in 2011.”

Ekong noted that it is a critical issue that although approximately 1,555,780 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) require anti-retroviral drugs, about one third of the group are currently on treatment.”The gender dynamics in the profile of infections and the growing burden of the 2.2 million HIV orphans inNigeriahas made it necessary for the revised policy to critically address the rising HIV prevalence among women, the expansion in number of orphans and  vulnerable  children.

Other critical issues which the revised policy should also address,  Ekong further stated include the stigmatization of PLHIV and violation of their rights as well as their roles and responsibilities, the differences in communication messages  on abstinence, condom use etc in post-primary educational institutions, and “the issues associated with increased access to treatment and care,” he said.Ojukwu’s Will read, Bianca highly favoured

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