By Abiodun Emmanuel, Abuja
THE Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and impact survey (NAIIS) 2018, the largest population-based HIV/AIDS household survey in the world has indicated that the country’s HIV prevalence rate dropped from 3.0% in 2014 to 1.4% in 2018.
This put the number of people in the country leaving with the virus at 1.9 million.
Speaking, on Thursday during the unveiling of the NAIIS, President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data for the country was crucial for planning effective health interventions to arrest the HIV epidemic and ultimately rid the country of this health threat.
NAIIS directly measured HIV prevalence and viral load suppression, allowing Nigeria to focus on providing services to the areas with the greatest need to control the HIV epidemic.
He said, “The Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, was designed to provide the data we need to plan adequately and consolidate on the progress towards the elimination of HIV in Nigeria.
“We are already a step ahead in this regard, as the Federal government has ensured that the HIV treatment programme in Taraba and Abia is properly funded this year and accommodation made to resource future expansions in the coming years”.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, noted that with donor partners, PEPFAR and the Global fund 1.1 million Nigerians had been placed on life saving treatment.
He said, “As you may be aware the first case of AIDS in Nigeria was reported in 1986, since then, the epidemic has grown steadily from 1.8% in 1991 to 3.8% in 1993, 4.5% in 1995, 5.4% in 1999 and peaked at 5.8% in 2001.
“The prevalence began a gradual reduction from 5.8% to 5% in 2003, this decline continued to 4.4% in 2005, 4.6% in 2008 and 4.1% in 2010. By 2014 the HIV prevalence rate was 3.0%. The Nigerian HIV/AIDS indicator and Impact Survey findings provide Nigeria with an accurate national HIV prevalence measure of 1.4%”.
In his remark, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the NAIIS gave a greater clarity on the extent of the HIV epidemic, and a clear sense of direction on what needed to do to achieve our goal of eliminating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.
He said: “It is important that all people living with HIV get into treatment and achieve viral suppression. To halt the epidemic, we need to act now. As a government working with our partners, we have what it takes to support persons who are HIV-positive, to provide treatment, to protect their families and to help people live long and healthy lives.”
Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Michel Sidibé, commended the Nigerian government and all its partners for conducting this ambitious survey “which provides us with a much better understanding of the country’s AIDS epidemic.
“While it is fantastic news that there are fewer people living with HIV in Nigeria than previously thought, we must not let down our guard. Let us use the results of this survey to better focus our delivery of HIV prevention, treatment and care services to people in greatest need and ensure that Nigeria gets on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”