World AIDS Day: Nigerian AIDS Group Sensitises Citizens
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The Nigeria Representatives of International Indigenous Working Group on HIV and AIDS (IIWGHA) has embarked on a campaign to sensitise Nigerians on the need to halt the spread of HIV by taking the HIV and AIDS test to ascertain their status. The Group concerned by the rising cases of HIV infection among Nigerians has decided to mark this year’s World AIDS Day with the theme: “U = U” which means “Undetectable Viral Load Equals Un-transmittable of the Virus”.

According to available data, Nigeria accounts for about 59% of all new HIV infections in West and Central Africa with only 34% of adults living with HIV are aware of their status in 2019 and 33% of all people living with HIV in Nigeria receiving treatment. The data also show that 26% of children living with HIV are on ART.

Meanwhile UNAIDS has stated that Nigeria is the highest when it comes to giving births to HIV positive children globally. UNAIDS also estimated that around two-thirds of new HIV infections in West and Central Africa in 2019 occur in Nigeria.

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Together with South Africa and Uganda, the country accounts for around half of all new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa every year. This is despite achieving a 13% reduction in new infections between 2010 and 2019.
Unprotected heterosexual sex accounts for 80% of new HIV infections in Nigeria, with the majority of remaining HIV infections occurring in key affected populations such as sex workers.

Six states in Nigeria account for 41% of people living with HIV, including Kaduna, Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Lagos, Oyo, and Kano.

HIV prevalence is highest in Nigeria’s southern states (known as the South South Zone), and stands at 5.5%. It is lowest in the southeast (the South East Zone) where there is a prevalence of 1.8%. There are higher rates of HIV in rural areas (4%) than in urban ones (3%).8
Approximately 45,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in Nigeria in 2019. Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 35% to 2019, and 89% of those with a positive diagnosis in Nigeria are accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART

IIWGHA also revealed that data show that in 2019, only 15.1% of people between ages 15-49 had tested and knew their status, and only 24% had achieved viral suppression. This is against Nigeria’s aim of reaching UNAIDS target of 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status through test by 2021.
Since unprotected sex accounts for 80% of new infections in Nigeria every year, IIWGHA Nigeria is pleading with all Nigerians to join hands and end HIV/AIDS by knowing their status, enrol on ART if positive, suppress viral load, live long and prevent passing the virus to their sex partner.

By Nonso Ekwunife



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