The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has expressed deep worries about the significant prevalence of HIV transmission from mothers to their children. This troubling issue currently stands at an alarming national average of 22 percent. Consequently, NACA strongly emphasises the urgency of implementing focused interventions to combat this problem. In commemoration of World Aids Day (WAD), Gambo Aliyu, the head of NACA, expressed his dismay over Nigeria’s significant contribution of approximately 30 percent towards the global shortfall in eliminating its transmission from mothers to their children. He emphasised the necessity for targeted measures in states where the prevalence surpasses 25 percent.
Despite some noteworthy advancements, Nigeria continues to face significant challenges in combating the virus. It remains burdened with the second-highest number of HIV cases globally, with approximately 1.8 million individuals currently living with the virus. Out of this population, around 1.63 million people have been fortunate enough to receive life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Shedding light on the gender divide, he emphasised that about 58 percent of Nigerians living with HIV are female, whereas males constitute 42 percent of this afflicted population.
Social change will guarantee access to treatment and prevention services.
Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of NEPWHAN (Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria), in his address at the 2023 WAD festivities in Nigeria, where the focus was on the theme “Communities: Leadership to End AIDS by 2030”. Mr. Ibrahim highlighted the utmost importance of prioritising communities and networks in combating the AIDS epidemic. He emphasised the significance of utilising social change as a powerful tool to guarantee equitable access to both treatment and prevention services.
Furthermore, in Nigeria, there is a pressing need for the government to show unwavering dedication in the battle against this virus. This commitment should not only be limited to the national level but also extend to the state level. Speaking further, he also emphasised the importance of community members actively engaging in the fight against the virus, as they are the ones confronted with the significant challenges that hinder the provision of crucial HIV services to those who require them the most.
It is a reminder to come together and fight the epidemic.
Every year, on the first of December, the WAD is commemorated. This significant day aims to lend support to global initiatives in preventing the emergence of new infections, fostering awareness and understanding around HIV, extending support to individuals living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS, and honouring the memory of those who have been lost to this devastating disease. The occasion stands as a powerful reminder urging everyone to all come together and reignite dedication in putting an end to the HIV epidemic. WAD has effectively raised global awareness by drawing attention to a multitude of challenges, and this year’s theme is a valuable addition to that ever-expanding list.
In 1988, the world witnessed the inaugural World AIDS Day, an occasion dedicated to increasing understanding of HIV and AIDS while paying tribute to those whose lives have been impacted by this devastating epidemic. 2023 will be a significant milestone as they come together to commemorate the 35th anniversary of this significant event. In the last 35 years, remarkable strides have been made in combating it as a result of breakthroughs in medical exploration, expanded availability of care and precautionary measures, and a more comprehensive understanding of the virus.
Unwavering legislative assistance to NACA would strengthen their effort.
Lastly, Amobi Ogah, the Chairman of the House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Control (ATM), expressed his commitment to providing unwavering legislative assistance to NACA. He pledged to implement innovative strategies and interventions that would empower NACA to accomplish its objectives with utmost efficiency. He expressed that on the occasion of World AIDS Day, the global community comes together to reaffirm their commitment to conquering the obstacles presented by it. They emphasise the importance of fostering cooperation and joining forces to strive towards a future where the detrimental effects of this destructive illness are entirely eradicated.