The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has revealed that two states – Akwa Ibom and Benue, have the highest number of HIV positive persons in the country.
According to NACA, 48 out of every 1,000 persons selected at random in the states are likely to test positive for HIV, which is way higher than the national average – 13 in every 1,000 persons.
This brings the HIV prevalence rate in Nigeria to 1.3 per cent according to the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).
Other states like Taraba, Anambra and Abia, have the next highest HIV prevalence rate of 2.6, 2.2, and 2.0 per cent respectively. The report shows that states in the North have the lowest HIV prevalence rate.
While speaking with the Nation on the trends of HIV prevalence across Nigeria, the Director-General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said:
“This is largely first because of behaviour. The second reason is culture. If you look at North Africa, you will see that the prevalence of HIV is very low simply because of religious and cultural influence. Even here in Nigeria, if you look at the far North, you will see that the prevalence is low because of the way of life and cultural and religious influences.
“If you look at some communities nationally, because of culture and behaviour, you will see that the prevalence is very high because of the way people live, interact, and the way they socialise.
“These are very important. The last is education. It is not the level of education that a person has but the level of education that individuals have in terms of awareness about the disease, in terms of prevention measures, and in terms of the ability to use those prevention measures. It is one thing to know that this thing works in preventing HIV and it is another thing to use it.”
The NACA boss, however, stated that the agency is re-strategising to ensure that everyone who is HIV positive is identified and immediately placed on treatment to contain the spread of the epidemic and keep them alive. This way, Nigeria will be well on its way to achieving the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) target of ensuring that 95 per cent of the population know their HIV status, are placed on treatment and have suppressed viral loads by 2030.
The Street Journal/ The Nation