The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says poor funding and lack of access to HIV services were negatively affecting the fight against HIV/AIDS in the South-South Zone of the country.
Mr Nnamso Thomas, the Acting South-South Zonal Coordinator of NACA, said this on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.
World AIDS Day is marked annually on Dec. 1 while the global theme for 2022 is “Equalise to End it.”
The national theme is “Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services.”
Thomas said although the region had made significant progress by implementing several programmes, these gains were being affected by the challenges of access to prevention and treatment services and funding.
The coordinator said the Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) 2018 for South-South revealed an estimated 557,980 persons living with HIV.
He added that the survey revealed a 3.1 per cent prevalence rate, adding that this was higher than the national prevalence of 1.3 per cent.
Thomas said: “We have a population that does not have access to HIV treatment and prevention services.
” This is why both globally and nationally, stakeholders feel that it is important for structural barriers to be removed.
“This year, there will be a lot of discussions on how communities would have to remove barriers for people regardless of their population group or location to have equal access to HIV services.
” There is also the issue of poor funding as over 90 per cent of HIV response in Nigeria is donor-driven.
” How do we sustain our successes when these donors who are gradually pulling out their funds eventually leave?”
The coordinator said while it was important to talk about treatment, people needed to know that prevention remained critical.
He lamented that more than 92,000 persons were infected in Nigeria in 2022 while 1.5 million people were infected globally in 2021.
Dr Ifeanyi Udenkwo, Team Lead of the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Cross River, said the state used to be a hard-hit state.
He, however, said the prevalence of the disease had dropped from six per cent to two per cent due to sustained efforts to tackle the pandemic.
Udenkwo said the data, which was from NAIIS, had shown that the state was winning the fight against the pandemic.
He expressed the hope that the prevalence of the disease would be reduced further to one per cent or less in the next NAIIS survey.
credit: PM News