EVEN as global attention focuses on the challenge of HIV and AIDS on ocassion of this year’s World AIDS Day tomorrow, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof. John Idoko, says significant progress has been made in Nigeria since Declaration of Universal Access in 2005.
According to him, the percentage of the world’s adult population living with HIV has leveled off as 20 times more people than before now have access to life-saving treatment.
Speaking to Good Health Weekly in Abuja, Idoko noted: “Five million people receiving ART in resource limited countries. Price of drug has dropped and they have become more potent, less toxic and more convenient and hence patients are adhering better.”
But despite this cheering news, he admits the rising cost to national human capital, among other negative indices. “The number of people living with HIV (PLWH) is decreasing because of new infections.
With provision of Universal Access to comprehensive HIV Prevention, treatment, care and support programmes,the NACA DG is however optimistic..
“We believe that greater focus on HIV prevention is our best hope and that effective strategies must be built on a detailed knowledge of the current epidemic – including what drives it and its likely future progression.
“But we must also sustain the momentum in AIDS treatment and do more to support the needs to adults and children living with and affected by HIV,” he declared.
Lamenting the undue “feminisation” of the HIV & AIDS epidemic, Idoko said: “Addressing gender inequality and harmful gender norms is therefore vital to reversing the spread of HIV stigma and discrimination toward PLWH and vulnerable groups.”
NACA has over the years led institutional response in providing the framework for national strategic response to the epidemic.
The Agency provides the mirror by which Nigeria’s response to the many dimensions of tackling HIV & AIDS can be assessed, from its response to dealing with People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), as well to measures to check the further spread of the disease.
At the national level, it is overseeing the Universal Declaration of Access adopted in 2005, seeks to, among others, “Halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015 and contribute to the developmental goals of the nation including vision 20/20/20.