As Nigeria commemorated the 2015 World AIDS Day yesterday, World Health Organisation, WHO has said that least 3.4million Nigerians are infected with the virus of the 26million people in Sub Saharan Africa and that nine out of ten of all children living with the HIV/AIDS in the world are found in this region.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti revealed this figure yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing at the Ministry of Health to mark the day.
Meoti who was represented by the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Rui Vaz, disclosed further that an additional 1.4 million people get infected with the virus every year while the disease killed almost 800,000 people in 2014 alone.
According to Vaz, although there is a reduction in the number of new infection by 41% in the last 15 years, there is still the gap of stigma, discrimination and punitive laws still persisting in the region.
He said, ‘’ the region has achieved the Millennium Development Goal 6 of halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, adding that in 2014, close to 11 million people living with the disease received life-saving antiretroviral treatment which has led to a reduction by nearly half since 2005.’’
The WHO Representative also disclosed that the new recommendations which include using innovative HIV testing methods and ways to offer treatment to all people living with HIV and enhancing prevention of the disease.
The Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said Nigeria contributes 3.4 million to this global population of people living with HIV, adding that about 8 hundred thousand Nigerians are currently being treated with the antiretroviral drugs.
He further disclosed that there is a consistent decline of HIV prevalence among youths between the ages of 15 to 24 from 6.0% in 2001 to 2.9% last year, adding that there is a reduction in new infections due to positive interventions.
The minister also noted that, while results show that HIV prevalence is highest among men who have sex with men followed by brothel based female sex workers, those who inject drugs and transport workers, police and Armed Forces from 2007 to 2014, the prevalence has steadily risen from 13.7% in 2007 t0 22.9% in 2014 among homosexuals.
He promised that the Buhari administration is committed to strengthening the health sector towards achieving the global goal of eliminating HIV by the year 2030, adding that with joint efforts, it can bring about scale up of HIV prevention among adolescents and young people, eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and expand access to care and treatment services in the country.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Amina Shamaki said, ‘’the WAD is an opportunity for awareness creation and social mobilization which can be further facilitated with the help of the media’’, adding that it is a day to renew the commitment to ‘’fight AIDS to finish’’.
The theme for this year is ‘’Getting to Zero: ‘’Ending HIV/AIDS By 2030’’.

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