A report presented by Ms Victoria Isiramen of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has revealed that about 160,000 Nigerian adolescents are infected with the HIV virus while 11,000 have died from the epidemic.
Making a presentation entitled, “All In! Ending The Epidemic Among Adolescents,” at a workshop on Making Media and People Living With HIV Champions of the Ambitious 90-90-90 Target by 2020, yesterday in Abuja, she said adolescents contribute 70 per cent of AIDS deaths globally, while in Nigeria, adolescents contribute 8 per cent of HIV deaths.
She noted that there are 80 per cent of new infections among adolescents globally, and that HIV is now the second largest contributor to adolescent mortality globally and number one in Africa. Isiramen noted, “Adolescents are the ones to work with in any new programme, including stemming the tide of HIV infection in Nigeria.” She added that the workshop was a fast-tracked HIV response to adolescents.
Meanwhile, the UNAIDS country director for Nigeria, Dr Bilali Camara, has said that $1.2billion is needed to adequately fund Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS response. He said that funds allocated for HIV/AIDS are not enough to stop the spread and treat persons living with the virus, adding that this would delay its goal to ensure an HIV/AIDS-free generation. He disclosed that only half of the $1.2billon required has been made available, with the Nigerian government contributing only 25% of the fund instead of 50%.
The workshop was organised for health journalists and representatives of people living with HIV/AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria, to sensitise them to the ambitious UNAIDS treatment target – the 90-90-90 – and share ideas on how best it can be achieved by 2020. The target will ensure that by the year 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral load suppression.
The country director in his presentation on the ambitious target said that with the noticeable improvement in the life expectancy of persons living with the virus and on the drugs, it is quite unethical for any government not to fund the response. According to him, the antiretroviral drugs with evidence-based research has shown that it can cut transmission by about 50%, with the use of treatment for prevention. He said, “It is unfortunate that governments are unwilling to fund the treatment despite the huge benefits to humanity; can you imagine cutting the spread of the virus by half?”