Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world as well as one of the highest new infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa with many of its citizens living with the dreaded condition unaware of their status, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria has said.
The Acting Public Affairs Officer of its Consulate General, Kevin Krapf, who made this known in Lagos on Monday, said currently, 720, 000 persons are on the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) treatment and 50,000 pregnant women have also received antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Krapf noted that approximately four million Nigerians had received HIV counseling and testing services this year.
The event was to mark the 2017 World AIDS Day and the theme was: “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability and Partnerships.” It was held in collaboration with the Lagos State University College of Medicine, according to a statement.
“Low access of antiretroviral treatment remains an issue for people living with HIV in Nigeria,” Krapf said, as he commended the “new commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with HIV each year.”
He attributed his ranking of Nigeria with the second largest epidemic in the world to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), this is as he also said many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status due to insufficient recommended number of HIV testing and counseling centers.
Krapf, however, said HIV prevention messages and activities have reached over 300,000 people identified as most-at-risk.
The latest PEPFAR data from its Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIAs) show that five high-burden African countries are already approaching control of their HIV/AIDS epidemics, something that would have once seemed impossible, according to him.
He said the world is now at an unprecedented moment in the HIV/AIDS response, stating, “For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to change the very course of a pandemic by controlling it without a vaccine or a cure.”
December 1 of every year is World HIV/AIDS Day.