Published: Sun, March 17, 2019
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Nigeria's HIV Prevalence Drops to Under 2%

Nigeria's HIV Prevalence Drops to Under 2%

"The Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey was created to provide the data we need to plan adequately and consolidate on the progress towards the elimination of HIV in Nigeria".

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that UNAIDS is the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS and a special team handling all HIV/AIDS related crisis.

The new data differentiate HIV prevalence by state, indicating an epidemic that is having a greater impact in certain areas of the country.

About 3.2 million persons are now living with the virus in the country. HIV prevalence is also high in the North Central zone (2.0%) and in the South East zone (1.9%).

This came up as Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, unveiled the findings of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS NAIIS and launched the Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework 2019-2021, which will form the future response to the country's epidemic.

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The South-South zone of the country has the highest HIV prevalence, at 3.1 per cent among those aged 15-49 years.

"It is important that all people living with HIV get treatment and achieve viral suppression".

Giving a further breakdown, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Sani Aliyu, explained that the percentage of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria, among the age group of 15-49 years, was 1.4 per cent (1.9 per cent among females and 0.9 per cent among males).

The survey was conducted within nine months as it commenced June through December 2018 in the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory. The new national HIV prevalence measure is estimated at 1.4% and is more accurate than those previously conducted, as it is based on an expanded surveillance system and a revised and enhanced methodology, a U.S. government official has said.

According to him, NAIIS is the largest HIV/AIDS specific single country survey ever done in the world which is truly representative of the entire population. The survey also showed that Northern Nigeria has a lower HIV/AIDS burden than south.

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"We know with our new data, we can be more focused, we can really go to where the epidemic is and be more efficient in term of utilisation of resources and have a better return on what will be invested in this fight", Sidibe said.

"However, it is time for us to leverage on the result and ensure that no baby is born with HIV in Nigeria", he added.

He said this would guide the scale up of treatment and prevention services across all age groups.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, welcomed the new estimates and said the improved understanding of the country's HIV epidemic would allow Nigeria to better reach people living with HIV and people at higher risk of acquiring HIV.

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