Nigerians have a staggering 3.4 million people living with HIV in Nigeria (2014 data). Of this, a scary 2.9 million are not receiving treatment needed to suppress the infection. They are also in hiding and are secretly dying and infecting others.
While speaking at World AIDS Day (2015) symposium organised by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, in collaboration with Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Lagos branch.
Representative of the Population Council Abuja, Dr. Sylvia Adebajo noted that only 500,000 people are currently on treatment, while the 2.9 million largely men are at large. In her words, she said:
“Men do not go to hospital as much as women so they are the most difficult to reach. Those at higher risks include; women, homosexuals, men who engage with drugs and those who have sex with female sex workers.”
While Director-General of NIMR, Prof Innocent Ujah regretted that despite that effective available for the diagnosis and clinical management, the AIDS epidemic still claims an estimated two million lives each year, of which about 270, 000 are children. In his words he said:
“The multi – year theme since 2012 has been getting to zero with the three main sub-themes of zero new infections, zero deaths from AIDs – related illnesses and zero discrimination... With 90 percent of those on treatment having viral suppression, there will be a drastic break of transmission of new infection and end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030.”Dr. Oladipo Fisher, from Lagos State AIDS Control Agency, LASACA, said early initiation of HIV positive people into antiretroviral drugs will decrease rate of new infection, as well as reduce HIV-related illnesses and deaths. Consultant Haematologist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof. Sulaimon Akanmu also added his voice when he said: If infected people commenced treatment immediately “This will help bring their viral load to an undetectable level, where they will likely not infect other people, and is in line with the World Health Organization, WHO’s new treatment guideline for HIV/AIDS.”