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5.7m Nigerians have HIV/AIDS, say African ex-leaders


Former African leaders under the umbrella of Champions for AIDS-Free Generation (AFG) yesterday raised the alarm that about 5.7 million Nigerians, representing three per cent of the nation’s 170 million population, are infected with the deadly Human Immuno Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The group, represented by a former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, and a former Vice-President of Uganda, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, revealed this yesterday, when they visited the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his office, in company of some Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) officials.

Specifically, the former Botswana leader urged President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy similar energy and resources he is currently employing in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Relative success will be achieved when leaders are involved in the battle against HIV / AIDS. The disease will spread if not checked with necessary strategies and mechanism. AIDS would spread unless checked: the mistake we mad initially in our countries was ignoring HIV when there was low prevalence,” Mogae said.

“In 2001 the countries that were mostly affected were in Southern Africa: here in West Africa, prevalence rate were low, in Nigeria at one stage less than one per cent.”

“AIDS is like cancer, it grows, had we paid attention at that time, we could possibly had prevented its spreading in West Africa especially here in Nigeria. What do we learn from that? Right now it is about 3.4 per cent and 3.4 per cent in a country the size of yours is very significant: it means more than three million people.”

“We have to keep the message of the prevention and the danger of HIV/AIDS in front of the nation, we must not let people forget that we have an enemy to fight.

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