NO FEWER than 5.7 million
Nigerians, representing three per
cent of the nation’s 170 million
people, are infected with the
deadly Human Immuno Virus,
HIV, and Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS.
This was revealed by a group of
former African leaders under the
umbrella of Champions for AIDSFree
Generation, AFG, when
they visited the leadership of the
National Assembly to further urge
the federal government to take
urgent steps to improve on the
means needed to arrest the rising
The group, represented by a
former President of Botswana,
Festus Mogae, and a former Vice-
President of Uganda, Speciosa
Wandira-Kazibwe, told the
Senate President, Bukola Saraki,
in his office, that the situation
was degenerating and needed
proactive steps to curb the spread
of the virus.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday
confirmed that the latest figure
reported, a fortnight ago, that
Nigeria has the second highest
burden of HIV, after South Africa.
According to the report released
by AIDS Health Care Foundation,
AHF, which claimed Nigeria has the
second highest burden of HIV, after
South Africa, only about 45 percent
(about 70 million) of Nigerians are
aware of their HIV status.
Specifically, the former
Botswana leader urged President
Muhammadu Buhari to deploy
similar energy and resources he
is currently employing in the
fight against the Boko Haram
insurgency to the campaign
against HIV.AIDS.
“Relative success will be achieved
when leaders are involved in the
battle against HIV / AIDS. The
disease will spread if not checked
with necessary strategies and
mechanism. AIDS would spread
unless checked: the mistake we
made initially in our countries was
ignoring HIV when there was low
prevalence,” Mogae said.
“In 2001, the countries that
were mostly affected were in
Southern Africa: here in West
Africa, prevalence rate was low, in
Nigeria at one stage, less than one
per cent.”
“AIDS is like cancer, it grows,
had we paid attention at that time,
we could possibly have prevented
its spreading in West Africa,
especially here in Nigeria. What
do we learn from that? Right now
it is about 3.4 per cent, and 3.4 per
cent in a country the size of yours
is very significant: it means more
than three million people.”
“We have to keep the message of
the prevention and the danger of
HIV/AIDS in front of the nation,
we must not let people forget that
we have an enemy to fight.
Corroborating AHF
recommendations, the former
leaders think that achieving an
AIDS-free generation was possible
if more people knew their status
and those found positive placed
on treatment.
According to Elizabeth Duile,
the Prevention Programme
Manager of AHF, “Ending AIDS
starts with a commitment to act
and everyone has a responsibility
in stopping the spread of the virus.
“ People are often reluctant
to test for fear of the result
and stigma; today there are
mechanisms in place to check
stigma and discrimination. This
will ensure that people living with
HIV have access to treatment, care
and support,’’ she said.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation,
which is the largest non-profit
HIV/AIDS organisation in the
world and provides health care
to more than 600,000 patients in
36 countries, has been operating
in the country since 2011 and has
presence in six states.

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