1.9 million persons live with HIV in Nigeria ― NAIIS

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The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Sani Aliyu was quoted to have said that about 1.9 million Nigerians are now living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)-the virus that causes AIDS.

According to him, this is an improvement to what was obtained in 2014, when the country was estimated to have 3.1 million people living with the virus in the country.

The survey, which is the largest HIV survey in the world, reached more than 250,000 respondents in almost 100,000 households in the 774 local government areas of the country. Adewole noted that based on the survey, the new position places Nigeria after South Africa, India and Mozambique.

The South-south geopolitical zone has the highest HIV prevalence among adults age 15 to 64 years in the country with 3.1 percent, while the Northwest had the lowest prevalence rate with 0.6 percent.

"For the first time, the end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country", said H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria. The NAIIS directly measured HIV prevalence and viral load suppression and was primarily funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

According to the survey, the seven states with high prevalence account for 50% of the overall estimated number of persons living with HIV in Nigeria.

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.

He said NAIIS also showed that the country was able to effectively provide antiretroviral treatment. We must ensure pregnant women have access to antenatal services and are tested during every pregnancy.

"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.

"This result is good news as it indicates a lower burden which will indicate new people on treatment".

The Director-General of the agency, Sani Aliyu, made this known during the announcement of the NAIIS result at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja on Thursday. In recent years, there has been a significant expansion in the country's response to HIV.

The event is being organized by the Minister of Health and the National Agency for the Control of Aids.

The survey was completed at the end of December 2018.

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