BY SOLA OGUNDIPE
The world’s most populous black country lags behind five other African countries – Lesotho, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad and Angola - all classified as countries with slow declining HIV infection rates.
A report entitled “The 2013 Progress Report On the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive, notes that while Botswana has the most rapid decline of HIV infection followed by Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, in Nigeria, the number of HIV infections among children aged 0-14 and women aged 18-49 has declined very slowly.
According to data sourced from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, the Report states that childhood HIV infection rates dropped by just 8 percent from 65,000 in 2009 to 60,000 in 2012.
Further, only 1 in 10, or 12 percent (260,000) of children infected with HIV, were eligible for antiretroviral therapy in 2012, compared to 8 percent in 2009.
Data from the report also shows that the number of women of child-bearing age (15-49) acquiring HIV infection has not changed substantially since 2009. The number dropped marginally in four years from 120,000 to 110,000.
Worse still, only 20 percent of pregnant women living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV
From the Report, Nigeria still accounts for one third of all new HIV infections among children in the 21 priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa – the largest number of any country. The Report notes that “nearly all indicators assessed show stagnation and suggest that Nigeria is facing significant hurdles.
Other findings showed that the number of women becoming newly infected with HIV between 2009 and 2012 remains stable in most of the assessed countries. Only Ghana (44 percent) and South Africa (28 percent) have substantial declines in the number of women acquiring HIV infection.
Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV, PMTCT, is an intervention that provides drugs, counselling and psychological support to help mothers safeguard their infants against HIV.
2010 – 2015 National PMTCT scale up plan is to provide access to at least 90 percent of all
•Pregnant women to quality HIV counseling
and testing by 2015
•HIV positive pregnant women to more efficacious ARV prophylaxis by 2015
• HIV exposed infants to more efficacious ARV
prophylaxis by 2015
•HIV positive pregnant women to quality infant feeding counseling by 2015
•HIV exposed infants to early infant diagnosis services by 2015.
•PMTCT programme coverage is still very limited in Nigeria. Less than 10 percent of Antenatal facilities ioffer PMTCT services.
•Scaling up PMTCT programmes to reach every pregnant woman and babay across the country.
•Ensuring primary prevention of HIV among women of reproductive age within services related to reproductive health such as antenatal care, postpartum/natal care and other health and HIV service delivery points, are lacking.
•Integrating of HIV care, treatment and support for women found to be positive and their families.The overall goal is to contribute to improved