Mr Bright Ekweremadu, the Managing Director of the Society for Family Health (SFH) on Thursday announced that over 3.2 million Nigerians were currently living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Ekweremadu, who made the disclosure in Abuja at a forum to mark the end of its programme tagged “Enhancing Nigeria’s Response (ENR) to HIV and AIDS,’’ therefore, solicited more realistic programmes to fight the virus.
The ENR programme, one of Nigeria’s largest HIV/AIDS grants, was implemented by a consortium comprising Society for Family Health, ActionAid Nigeria, BBC Media Action, Population Council and Crown Agents.
According to Ekweremadu, given the prevalent rate in Nigeria, greater efforts ought to be made to tackle the HIV scourge.
He said: “There have been tremendous improvements in addressing and halting the HIV and AIDS burden in Nigeria; there is still a lot to be done especially in regard to expanding access to services.
“ENR was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to promote sexual reproductive health and HIV reduction in Nigeria.
“Its goal was to also contribute to reducing the spread of HIV epidemic and mitigating the impact of AIDS in Nigeria.”
Ekweremadu said the ENR programme was a six-year programme which was inaugurated in 2009 with a focus on eight high prevalence states.
He said the programme had set out to improve access to effective HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support information and services for people most vulnerable to infection.
Prof. John Idoko, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), in his speech, said with the end of the ENR programme, there was the need for government to internally fund HIV projects in the country.
Idoko disclosed that the Federal and State Governments were making efforts to increase the funding for the purpose of tackling HIV and AIDS in the country.
Dr Kemi Williams, DFID representative, in her remark, said that Nigeria had the second highest global prevalent rate of HIV, and called for concerted effort to arrest the scourge.
According to her, through the ENR programme, comprehensive knowledge of HIV increased by 45 per cent and 38 per cent, for males and females, respectively by 2014.
Williams noted that 1.2 billion male condoms and 4 million female condoms were distributed in the six years of the programme.
She said that an estimated 109, 364 new HIV infections were prevented from 2009 to date through ENR’s distribution of condoms and the health enlightenment and promotion efforts.