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Ensuring HIV free generation by utilisation of PMTCT is possible, says NACA

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[FILES] A doctor draws blood from a man to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit PHOTO: Edward Echwalu/Reuters<br />


•UNAIDS reports big drops in cost of ARVs as COVID-19 threatens further reductions

Ahead of World Children’s Day celebration, May 27, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said that it is possible to have a Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) free generation. May 27 is a day set aside to promote awareness among children and improve children’s welfare.

Director General, NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said: “As we celebrate our children on this day, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS wants you to take a moment to think about children living with HIV and their families.”

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Aliyu said Nigeria still accounts for a significant proportion of children living with HIV infection globally and this burden is due lack of utilisation of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services by pregnant mothers. He said even though there has been progress in antiretroviral coverage for pregnant women living with HIV, transmission of HIV infection from infected mother to child remains high, estimated no of 9,999 pregnant women tested positive in 2020 out of 2,504,678 pregnant mothers tested for HIV.

According to Aliyu, “NACA has been working with partners to scale-up services for HIV prevention, care and support. In 2020, Nigeria successfully increased PMTCT services sites to over 6,000 sites with 37,111 pregnant women receiving antiretroviral treatment. Despite this progress, a lot more needs to be done to stop children from getting infected with HIV so that A HIV-FREE GENERATION IS MADE POSSIBLE”

He added: “As we celebrate with our children, please join us and help us win the fight against HIV in children by encouraging pregnant mothers to get tested for HIV to protect their unborn children. ‘No child should be born with HIV in Nigeria.’”

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Meanwhile, civil society activism and competition from manufacturers of generic drugs drove down the prices of antiretroviral medicines from about US$ 14 000 per person per year for first-line regimens in high-income countries in 1990 to about $ 1200 per year in low- and middle-income countries in 2003. By 2018, the price per person per year in sub-Saharan Africa was under $ 100 for most fixed-dose combinations that include tenofovir. The prices of other fixed-dose combinations also have continued to decline over the past few years.

The joint United Nations programme for AIDS (UNAIDS), in a statement, estimates that the market value for generic antiretroviral medicines within low- and middle-income countries was about $ 1.8 billion in 2018. Approximately 80 per cent of generic antiretroviral medicines procured by low- and middle-income countries are currently manufactured in one country: India.

While there remains significant scope for further price reductions in countries where generic antiretroviral medicines are not yet easily accessible, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could have the opposite effect. Lockdowns, disruptions to production, border restrictions and transport disruption threaten to affect the supply of materials and the manufacture and distribution of HIV medicines, with tighter supply factors possibly leading to pressure on market prices.

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Gambo AliyuHIVNACAPMTCT
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