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Nigeria responsible for 24 per cent global burden of HIV/AIDS – UNICEF

…Says the country records 267,000 new cases in children
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria is responsible for 24 per cent of global burden of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the world.

Quoting the UNAIDS report of 2017, Dr. Ijaodola Olugbenga, Assistant Director, National Aids and STIs Control Programme, (NASCF) in the Federal Ministry of Health also said that Nigeria contributes one of the largest proportion of new vertically acquired HIV infections among children.

He said, “Nigeria is responsible for over 12.4% of the global burden of HIV infected children with an estimated number of 267,000 children living with HIV in the country, he said.

He spoke during a two day media dialogue on “Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission” organised by the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

While reiterating that Nigeria is committed to the goal of eliminating the mother to child transmission by 2020, he said that the country has initiated a number of policies and strategies to reduce the impact.

He lamented that out of the 9,784,285 women in Nigeria estimated to be pregnant in the country per year, based on fertility rate and population, only 40 percent of them make use of established health facilities, adding that mothers who already have the virus give birth to 8.4 per cent of children with the virus in the country.

“9,784,285 women get pregnant annually. Out of this figure, only 4,025,074 register for Anti-Natal Care at the health care centers.

While 2,682,337 pregnant women test for HIV, 64,811 pregnant women test positive to the disease.

“267,000 children are infected with HIV virus in Nigeria, 54,167 children under 14 years are under anti-retroviral drugs, 10,464 children have their viral loads tested, while 4,699 Nigerian children have viral load suppressed.

“For Nigeria to be able to address the challenges of the global burden of PMTCT, pregnant women must have access to PMTCT,” he added.

Earlier, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged the media to champion the cause of children to live free of the virus.

The Minister, who was represented by Olumide Osanyipeju, Head, Child Rights Information Bureau of the Ministry, said the Federal Government is on track to bring health services to every child since a large number of children are exposed to the virus.

He added that Nigeria is committed to the goal of Eliminating Mother to child transmission by 2020 and has initiated a number of strategies to achieve it.

On her part, Dr. Abiola Davis, UNICEF HIV/AIDS socialist, in her welcome remark, lamented the gradual decline in global fundings by donor agencies and called on the leadership of the country to map up plans on how to redesign to meet up with the global standard.

“95% of the nation’s HIV funding/response is generated from donor partners. This is becoming a serious call for concern as the donations are dwindling.

There is need for collaborative efforts from agencies and stakeholders to address the situation by redesigning HIV funding plan to meet up with global standard”, she added.

HIV /AIDS was first reported as a strange ailment, and first noticed by 5 gay men in Los Angeles, USA in 1982. More than 100 men died thereafter within two months of discovery of the strange condition.

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