The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says that Nigeria falls below 40 per cent in achieving the first 90 target of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 response to HIV treatment.
Dr Sani Aliyu, the Director-General of the agency announced this at the dissemination of results of the Adolescents and Young Persons “All in Project’’ on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and partners inaugurated the 90-90-90 target in 2014 to improve response to HIV and AIDS treatment.
The aim is to ensure that 90 per cent of all HIV positive persons are diagnosed, provided the antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and to achieve viral suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.
Aliyu who was represented by Mr Alex Ogundipe, Director, Community Prevention and Care Services, NACA, noted that the country was rated low because most people had yet to know their HIV status.
He added that knowing one’s status would ensure incredible improvement in the HIV response to treatment in the country.
He, however, added that participation of young persons in the HIV fight could not be over emphasised as they constituted a large portion of positive persons living with the virus in the country.
Similarly, Dr Micheal Kunnuji of the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, noted that effective communication, consultations and collaborations with the youth was important in the fight against HIV.
According to him, adolescents and young persons have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services in the country, thereby limiting their participation in the HIV fight.
UNAIDS 2018 report indicates that 520,000 young people between 15 years of age and 24 years of age are currently living with HIV in Nigeria.
“Some of the barriers to adolescents and young persons’ participation in the HIV response include resource constraints, poor commitment to participatory approach by policy makers and poor access to data.
“Others are cultural norms, values and beliefs and the belief that adolescents and young persons are too young and not of age,’’ the report notes.
Kunnuji noted that for the country to surmount the challenge, policy makers must demonstrate greater commitment to adolescents and young persons’ participation in the HIV response.
He added that economic barriers to young persons’ HIV service uptake should be addressed.
Also, Dr Dorothy Odongo, HIV Manager, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), added that it was important to increase participation and involvement of young persons in the HIV response in the country.
“Investment in young people is an investment to the future of a nation, so let us work together with young persons to achieve an HIV-free Nigeria’’, she said.