Bottlenecks In Nigeria’s Eradication Of HIV By 2030 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Bottlenecks In Nigeria’s Eradication Of HIV By 2030

Posted: Jul 24, 2016 at 3:58 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chioma Umeha
Lagos-Recently, the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) announced that it has achieved and exceeded its goal of providing HIV treatment to 15 million individuals across the world before the end of last year.
According to the UN agency, HIV infection has also dropped to 35 per cent while AIDS-related deaths are down to 41 per cent.
The United Nations, therefore, observes that the next five years will prove to be more crucial as the organisation aims to end AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Commenting on the claim of UNAIDS, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admits that the world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic.
“Now, we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals’’, his statement reads.
Responding to the global call, Prof. John Idoko, Director-General, NACA, says government agencies at all levels had embarked on programmes aimed at fighting HIV and AIDS to meet the target in Nigeria.
According to him, HIV and AIDS have been on the decline in the country and cases of new AIDS infection has reduced by 35 per cent in the past four years.
“Nigeria’s AIDS response has gained steady momentum in the past four years. We have managed to turn the tide.
“We now need new commitment and support and we are calling on Nigerians and the country’s partners to renew their commitment to ending AIDS by 2030,’’ Idoko says.
He adds that the country needed to fund the 90:90:90 strategy to eliminate the progression of AIDS, premature death and HIV transmission.
According to Idoko, 90:90:90 strategy is a system in which a person will be tested, and if he or she tests positive, will be linked and retained in HIV care to ensure that he or she adheres to anti-Retroviral therapy(ARV).
He further says that the effort by government had made it possible for the number of people living with HIV, who are on antiretroviral Therapy, to increase rapidly from 359,181 in 2010 to 747,382 in 2014.
“Effective antiretroviral treatment provides a dual effect of saving the lives of people living with HIV and adequately interrupting the transmission of HIV within the community.
“With improved domestic budgeting for HIV and AIDS and sustained external funding, there are plans to expand the coverage of antiretroviral treatment to 1.2 million adults and children by 2017.
“This is possible by establishing 2, 000 additional treatment sites across the country; we have made significant progress but there is still more to do.
“Funding is a key issue; most of the funds we require go into commodities like drugs, condoms and others, most of the drugs are not manufactured in the country,’’ Idoko says.
Irrespective of challenges, the UN insists that stakeholders must double easy access to medicines in the next five years to meet the international goal of stopping HIV and AIDS.
UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, observes that ending HIV and AIDS by 2030 would require increased funding to 31.1 billion dollars by 2020.
According to him,  it was important to increase funding and develop measures that would target specific local risk groups rather than blanket countrywide policies.
In his view, Mr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Secretary of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, notes that HIV testing should be the first and most important step towards ending AIDS.
He says that the rate of HIV testing was low, noting that unless the testing bottleneck was addressed, it might take longer than 2030 to end HIV and AIDS.
“Also where more than 800,000 people living with HIV need Anti Retroviral Therapy and less than 50 per cent of the number does not have access to the therapy will impede the target.’’