Africa News Nigeria adapts strategy to end the AIDS epidemic

Nigeria adapts strategy to end the AIDS epidemic

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Nigeria has adopted its Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework 2019–2021 to guide the country’s future response to HIV. It follows the results of a new survey that shows that HIV prevalence in the country stands at 1.4%. Previous estimates had indicated Nigeria’s HIV prevalence at 2.8%.

The results of the Nigeria National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAISS) were unveiled at a special event held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 14 March that was attended by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé. During his speech, Mr Sidibé commended the president’s leadership in guiding the country’s response to the HIV epidemic. Nigeria has tripled the number of people on HIV treatment since 2010 and adopted a test and treat policy in 2016.

The improved understanding of the country’s epidemic based on the survey results will allow for more efficient investments in the response to HIV and a more effective planning for the provision of HIV prevention, care and treatment services. It will permit the adoption of a population–location approach to deliver services to the people in the areas where they are needed the most.

During his three-day visit to Nigeria, Mr Sidibé met the Minister of Health, Isaac F. Adewole, to discuss progress, gaps and challenges in the AIDS response and pledged UNAIDS’ support to Nigeria in the implementation of the new framework. This was further underscored when Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and Mr Sidibé signed a new cooperation agreement to strengthen the relationship between UNAIDS and Nigeria.

Mr Sidibé also paid a courtesy call on the wife of the country’s president, Aisha Buhari, to formalize and extend her appointment as the UNAIDS Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and the Promotion of Treatment for Children Living with HIV in Nigeria.

Ms Buhari thanked UNAIDS for extending her mandate and reiterated her commitment to achieving an AIDS-free generation of children.

“This will enable me to contribute more towards ensuring that no child is born with HIV in Nigeria,” said Ms Buhari.

Representatives of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria also met with Mr Sidibé to voice their concerns about the gaps and challenges in the country’s AIDS response.

The network’s national coordinator, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said services were too often not reaching the people in the greatest need. He asked for UNAIDS’ help in strengthening community responses to the HIV epidemic and to ensure that people living with HIV, particularly young people, were involved in creating policies and programmes that affected their health and well-being.

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