By Victoria Ojeme
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has presented the final technical report of the 2020 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) to the Minister of Health, Prof. Osagie Ehanire.
The report presentation was made after rigorous review and validation of the survey results and conclusions. It is the largest population-based HIV survey ever to be completed globally.
Last year, the NAIIS revealed Nigeria had fewer people living with HIV than previously estimated.
The 2019 NAIIS report found that in Nigeria the HIV prevalence – the percentage of people living with HIV in Nigeria – among adults age 15-64 years was 1.5 percent (1.9 percent among females and 1.1 percent among males), and among children age 0-14 was 0.2 percent. HIV prevalence was the highest among females age 35-39 years at 3.3 percent and among males age 50-54 years at 2.3 percent. The disparity in HIV prevalence between females and males was greatest among younger adults, with females age 20-24 years (1.3 percent) having more than three times the prevalence of males in the same age group (0.4 percent).
The NAIIS also found that the prevalence of viral load suppression (VLS), a widely used measure of effective HIV treatment in a population, among all people living with HIV age 15-64 years in Nigeria was 44.5 percent (46.2 percent among females and 40.9 percent among males). The disparity in VLS between females and males was greatest among those age 25-34 years, with females age 25-34 years (40.0 percent) being twice as likely to have VLS compared to males in the same age group (20.3 percent).
It is expected that this year’s report will capitalise on the gains recorded last year.
In her remarks, the Ambassador congratulated the Government of Nigeria for leading the conduct of NAIIS and rapidly using the results of the survey to guide its efforts toward achieving HIV/AIDS epidemic control and improving the health and well-being of the Nigerian people.
Ambassador Leonard commended the role of donors, including the Global Fund, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and their contributions in the NAIIS survey.
She recognized the collaboration managed by the CDC, which ensured that the NAIIS quality survey was conducted and concluded in record time.
The survey findings greatly increased stakeholders’ understanding of the epidemic and provided critical data that informed programmatic decisions and interventions that have led to the provision of life-saving treatment to over 1 million Nigerians living with HIV.
She also recognized CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), for their tremendous efforts working with the Government and other partners to implement the survey and finalize the technical report. She reiterated that the U.S. government stands ready to continue its partnership with the Government of Nigeria and other international and domestic partners to support Nigeria, as it builds upon its successes in fighting HIV/AIDS.
In addition to funding from Global Fund in 2018, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), provided $71 million to support the implementation of NAIIS. The survey provided detailed epidemiologic data on HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C in the country and assessed the impact of 15 years of PEPFAR investment in Nigeria.