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‘Nigeria inches closer to eradicate AIDS’

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
25 November 2021   |   4:02 am
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has said achieving the 90-90-90 ambitious treatment target of ending the epidemic is becoming a reality in Nigeria, with more than 80 per cent of people living with HIV...

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has said achieving the 90-90-90 ambitious treatment target of ending the epidemic is becoming a reality in Nigeria, with more than 80 per cent of people living with HIV now placed on treatment.

It also noted that the most populous black nation became the only country to place more people on treatment during COVID-19 and advocated for sustainable financing for HIV treatment in Nigeria.

The 90:90:90 target envisaged that by 2020, 90 per cent of the population of persons living with HIV would know their status and receive sustained antiretroviral therapies with 90 per cent receiving viral suppression.

In the interim, President Muhammadu Buhari has given an approval to place 50,000 additional people on treatment yearly.

Speaking at a joint press conference yesterday in Abuja, Country Director of UNAIDS Nigeria, Dr Erasmus Morah, observed that in 2016, less than 40 per cent of Nigerians living with HIV were on life-saving treatment, while the nation was one of the countries holding back the continental response to HIV, adding Nigeria “is now knocking on the door of 90:90:90, with achieving the target is now almost a reality.”

He added: “Nigeria must be commended for being party to this promise made at the June 2021 UN General Assembly High-Level meeting in New York, where the Political Declaration was endorsed and where President (Muhammadu) Buhari committed to quickly adopt the commitments and put them into action at the country level. Nigeria has put a befitting spin to the global theme: ‘End inequality, end AIDS through sustainable financing.’

Morah added: “The country is on the right path to achieving this milestone, kicking off a country dialogue on sustainable financing planning for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

According to him, “If we have the right policy environment, the correct strategic framework and the right systems, including health, community and other supporting systems, we can get it right. Let us support the HIV Trust Fund, let us support strong country ownership and stamp out inequalities while putting communities at the centre.

“The government of Nigeria has commenced incrementally paying for the treatment of Nigerians living with HIV using domestic resources, at 17 per cent versus 83 per cent HIV programme resource contribution between the government and donors respectively. There are still some funding gaps that the country needs to address as we are moving towards epidemic control.”