Insufficient fund allocated by the federal government to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and treat persons living with the virus would delay its goal to ensure a free HIV/AIDS generation. Dr Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria said to adequately fund Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS response, about $1.2 billon is required but only half of that money has been made available with the Nigerian government contributing only 25% of the fund instead of 50%.
Dr Bilali Camara made this known at a workshop organised for journalists that cover health issues and representatives of people living with HIV/AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria, to sensitise them on the ambitious UNAIDS treatment target – the 90-90-90 – and share ideas on how best it can be achieved by 2020.
Meanwhile, another report presented by Ms Victoria Isiramen of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) revealed that about 160,000 Nigerian adolescents are infected with the HIV virus while 11,000 have died from the epidemic. 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 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.
His words, “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.” Ms Victoria Isiramen, in her presentation, entitled, “All In! Ending The Epidemic Among Adolescents,” said 80 per cent of new infections are from adolescents with 70 per cent of AIDS death , while in Nigeria, adolescents contribute 8 per cent to HIV deaths among the endemic 25 countries all over the world.