Stakeholders task government on early diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in infants
The Federal Government has been urged to pay serious attention to early diagnosis of Human Immuno Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in infants.
The advice followed a revelation that 1,358 infants born to pregnant women living with AIDS were diagnosed to be HIV positive in 2017. This is contained in the HIV services statistics for the year.
It was also revealed that only about 54,000 out of the 221,000 children who are affected by the virus are on anti- retroviral treatment.
The Assistant Director, Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) at the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme, Dr. Ijaodola Olugbenga who disclosed the figures at a media forum organized by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) yesterday in Calabar, said even though Nigeria had made giant strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the government needed to do more in the area of pediatric health.
Olugbenga noted that Nigeria has the second largest global burden of HIV/AIDS and also contributes the largest proportion of new vertically acquired HIV infections among children.
According to the expert, Nigeria is responsible for over 12.4% of the global burden of HIV infected children with an estimated 267,000 children living with HIV in the country.
He told the gathering that of over 9 million women who get pregnant in Nigeria every year, only about 40 percent uses established health facilities for antenatal clinic, a situation he said was not acceptable.
“To achieve the goal of elimination of Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT), at least 90 percent of HIV infected women must have access to comprehensive PMTCT services, including anti-retroviral drugs ARVs during pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding periods.’’
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) specialist, Dr. Abiola Davies noted that with the current decline in global funding for HIV in Nigeria, “we must look at ways to galvanize funds to meet the global target.”
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