By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LSACA, yesterday disclosed that no fewer than 72,000 adolescents are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, in the state just as the wife of the governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode stressed that prevention efforts must be doubled, if the world is to fast-track an end to the pandemic.
Out of the top 10 states with highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in Nigeria, Rivers is the highest with 15.2 percent. The lowest among the 10 is Ondo with 4.3 percent.
Seven months ago, Lagos State Commissioner for health, Dr Jide Idris announced that the state had recorded a drop HIV, prevalence rate from 5.1 in 2013 to 4.1.
Speaking, during a stakeholders’ Forum on Adolescents Living with HIV in Lagos to mark this year’s World AIDS Day with the theme: “Hands Up for HIV Prevention”, the Chief Executive Officer, LSACA, Dr Oluseyi Temowo appealed to stakeholders to come together and fight the epidemic with a view to saving the country’s future leaders.
According to him; ‘’HIV occurs in all ages, hence the need to urgently tackle the transmission in adolescent. “Achieving AIDS free generation requires collective efforts, this is why we are calling on government at all levels, individuals and organisations to join us in this quest to make Lagos State HIV Free.’’
Temowo, who stressed the need for all hands to be on deck towards eradicating the HIV pandemic, said the State government is committed to ensuring that 90 percent of those affected are on treatment and have low viral load by 2030.
On her part, wife of the Lagos State Government, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode stressed that prevention efforts must be doubled, if the world is to stay on fast -track to ending the pandemic.
Ambode appealed to Nigerian policy makers for intervention programmes targeted at adolescents living with HIV and AIDS because of their strategic age bracket.
She said that the stakeholders’ forum was necessary as it promotes proper education, enlightenment and information dissemination on the pandemic.
Speaking, the Programme Manger, organised by Positive Action for Treatment Access, PATA , Mr. Francis Umoh, said the 2014 UNICEF report showed that estimated 196,000 Nigerian adolescents were living with HIV while 11,000 died of AIDS related cases in 2013 out of estimated adolescent population of 38,882,000. Umoh lamented low level of understanding of HIV transmission and prevention among adolescents, adding that pre-admission HIV test and other forms of discrimination are still being carried out against adolescents and young people seeking admission into learning institutions. “This is also observed in orphanages/homes as they do not admit adolescents living with HIV,” he said. Also speaking, the Representative of United Nations AIDS Control Agency, UNAIDS, Dr. Asa said HIV should be everyone’s business because everyone’s life is at stake.
“It is no longer a death sentence but a life sentence because many of these children got infected through their parents. It is possible to break the transmission and once that is done everyone will be safe. Countries like Cuba have done it and it is time to ensure that all children starts their lives free from HIV so that everyone stays AIDS free,” she said.