By SOLA OGUNDIPE
Admittedly, there are major challenges confronting Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS campaign, however, it is undeniable that the country has made significant progress against the epidemic in recent times. The National HIV prevalence which was 4.6 percent in 2008 declined to 4.1 percent in 2010 and there are strong indications that results of the new sentinel survey would be even more optimistic.
From the foregoing, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS receiving anti-retroviral drugs increased from 230,000 at the end of 2008 to 500,000 at the end of 2011 even as the number of sites for providing ARV drugs increased from 296 at the end of 2008 to 491 at the end of 2012. The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services which have increased from 7 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of PMTCT centres has increased from 533 in 2008 to 800 in 2012. Other positive indicators include: launch of the Accelerated PMTCT Programme for in a bid to get to 90 percent coverage and get to an “AIDS free generation” with zero transmission of HIV from mother tochild.; number of HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) centres increased from 896 in 2008 to 1,357 in 2012; mapping exercise and size of Most-at-Risk Populations (MARPS) to enhance targeted preventive services to curb HIV transmission in Nigeria ; setting up the National Strategic Plan/Framework 2010 -2015), Strategic plans/Frameworks (2010-2015) for 35 states + FCT, 6 CSO platforms, line ministries (2010), the National HIV Policy (2010), National Research Policy and Agenda and National HIV Prevention Plan (2011), and National Vaccine Plan (2012), expanding the country’s participation in the global search for an HIV.
Others are increased budget for HIV/AIDS from Federal government, states and LGAs; passage of the Stigma and Discrimination Bill has passed by 6th House of Representatives and efforts to represent it on the way the 7th House for onward submission to the Senate and decentralisation of comprehensive HIV services to PHCs – 524 PHCs upgraded, equipped and staff trained to deliver comprehensive HIV, TB and Malaria services The integration of HIV services with Malaria,TB,Maternal, New Born and Child Health(MNCH), provision of grants for research individuals and organizations to undertake operational research in priority areas of the national HIV response; building capacity and strengthening and coordination of civil society networks and successful co-hosting the 5th National Conference on AIDS with the theme “Ownership and Sustainability” in May 2010, are all part of the package.
Earlier in the year, the NACA DG ,Professor John Idoko was appointed member of the Core Team of the Adult Guide Lines for the Antiretroviral Treatment Committee and election as a member of the Governing Council of the International AIDS Society -IAS (2012 -2016).