By Adekunle Yusuf, Associate Editor and Moses Emorinken, Abuja
Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, has said Nigeria had achieved a milestone in its fight against the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by getting rid of middlemen in the procurement of antiretroviral drugs.
Aliyu stated this while addressing reporters in Lagos.
The NACA boss said the feat means the country can now capture almost double the number of people for testing and treatment services with the same budget.
He attributed the achievement to President Muhammadu Buhari, whose support he said made it possible to defeat the powerful business interests who fought to frustrate the agency’s plan to procure anti-retroviral drugs directly from manufacturers.
“We have eliminated the middlemen. We have made 100 per cent progress in this regard. Now, we go directly to manufacturers to buy our HIV drugs. We are grateful to Mr. President for making it possible,” he said.
Also, the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has said about 293 adults were being infected with HIV daily between 2010 and 2019.
It explained that although the HIV prevalence rate has dropped to 1.3 per cent, according to reports from the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), more still needs to be done because Nigeria has not achieved the 2020 target goals of UNAIDS, which aims to diagnose 90 per cent of all HIV positive people, provide life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for 90 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of those treated by 2020.
NEPWHAN National Coordinator Abdulkadir Ibrahim announced this in Abuja at the commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day.
He said: “With the prevalence of people living with HIV at 1.3 per cent, the incidence of HIV has dropped slowly in recent years. We have seen above one million people accessing affordable and effective HIV treatment, and AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by more than half since 2004 when it was at the peak.”