Recently, there was cheering news that the global community is winning the war against dreaded Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, HIV/AIDS.
United Nations’ agency (UNAID), which made the pronouncement, said the goal to get HIV treatment to 15million people by the end of 2015 has been met. The landmark figure was reached in March, nine months ahead of schedule.
According to figures released by UNAIDS’ yesterday, the global response to HIV has averted 30million new infections and nearly 8million AIDS-related deaths since the millennium. And over the same timeframe, new HIV infections have fallen from 2.6million per year to 1.8million, and AIDS-related deaths have dropped from 1.6million to 1.2million, while global investment in HIV has gone up from £3.1bn ($4.8bn) in 2000 to more than £13bn ($20bn) in 2014.
Though, there have been more achievements in the past five years than in the preceding 23 years, while some things are improving, the picture is far from rosy in other areas. Although new HIV infections have gone down, there are still an unacceptable number of new HIV infections each year, contributing to the burden of the epidemic. For instance, access to antiretroviral drugs is still an issue; getting lifesaving antiretroviral therapy is another, asides the slight improvement in the treatment access for children.
In spite of this, the proportion of children living with HIV and receiving antiretroviral therapy almost doubled between 2010 and 2014, from 14 percent to 32 percent.
It would be recalled that former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, raised the hopes of Nigerians when he declared that Nigeria has made steady progress in combating HIV/AIDS since the Abuja Declaration in 2001 and that government had the political will and commitment to sustain the progress made so far. He equally stated that government increased HIV funding from N2.5billion in 2002 to over N5billion in 2011, and signed a partnership agreement with the United States Government.
Based on the progress so far made, the fight against HIV/AIDS must be sustained with more funding. In the past decade, increased funding has led to access to more effective diagnostic testing, with millions of lives saved. There is no doubt that the apathy in funding will seriously weaken the fight against this killer disease. This is why the world cannot afford to sit back and allow lack of funds to cripple the efforts to save lives.
But amidst this grim picture, the battle against HIV/AIDS has picked up lately, though slower than the expectations of a weary world, it is still something to be cheerful about. Against this backdrop therefore, government must as a matter of priority, invest more in the management of HIV/AIDS and support the efforts of those involved in the war, as well as encourage participation of non-governmental organisations.
Additionally, Public Health Centres, PHC, should be upgraded and equipped with well trained staff to deliver comprehensive HIV/AIDS services. Government should also intensify its capacity-building, strengthening and coordination of civil society groups, among others. Together, the world can win the war against this deadly scourge.

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