The Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, says Nigeria has achieved 60 percent control of HIV infection rate, stating that the agency aims to achieve at least, 90 percent.
He noted that, in terms of treatment, the figures of those who have access to anti-retroviral medications are also increasing.
Speaking at the inauguration of the agency’s South-West zonal office in Lagos on Thursday, Aliyu said the location of the zonal office would bring the agency closer to stakeholders.
He said, “HIV is now 60 per cent under control. In the next three years, we want to achieve 90 percent control.
“In terms of treatment, the figures are also increasing.
“Hopefully, by the end of next year, we will be treating 1.5 million people instead of the one million that we are currently treating.
“This is our goal and one of the targets that we want to achieve by setting up a zonal office.
“We have drugs, but we are waiting for people to come and take them. So, there is need for more awareness and getting closer to communities and stakeholders.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu called for stronger collaboration among all stakeholders to eradicate the HIV pandemic in Nigeria and end the unenviable record of having the second largest HIV epidemic in the world.
He said there was urgent need for stakeholders to review strategies and deepen partnership in the area of advocacy and expanding access to care, treatment and support for those living with the virus.
“Let us move forward in a bold new spirit of partnership to overcome the cycle of HIV transmission and deliver health and wellbeing for all,” he said.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the recently released report of national and sub-national incidence rates, which indicate a reduction in prevalence of the disease, is a testament to the effort of all stakeholders.
“The progress made so far in ending this epidemic would not have been possible without dynamic advocacy, solidarity and a spirit of shared responsibility, which must be maintained,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He warned that much work needed to be done to ensure further significant reduction, “as Nigeria still has an unenviable record of having the second largest HIV epidemic in the world and one of the highest rates of new infection in sub-Saharan Africa.”
While noting that the establishment of the NACA zonal office in Lagos will bring closer the agency’s services to the people, particularly stakeholders and partners, Sanwo-Olu averred that the office will enhance NACA’s monitoring and coordination functions in the drive to reduce HIV prevalence.
“The decision to locate the South West Office of NACA in Lagos, I believe, is in recognition of the commitment and dedication of our government in eradicating the virus through the activities of the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency.
“More importantly, this decision is consistent with the recent classification of Lagos State as one of the locations of interest in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” the governor added.
Aliyu also noted that the office will expand the frontier of the agency in the achievement of its mandates, while also serving as functional knowledge centre on the disease for people living with the virus, providing them with how to obtain support and care.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has expressed his administration’s willingness to further deepen partnership with NACA to achieve the collective goal of eradicating HIV, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the project 90:90:90.
He noted that an HIV Consortium Group was recently inaugurated as a demonstration of the Lagos State government’s commitment and desire to bring on board all stakeholders towards achieving meaningful result.
Aliyu added that the new zonal office will oversee the coordination of NACA’s activities in the South West Zone and provide effective oversight of the agency’s activities in a cluster of states within the zone for appropriate report to the head office in Abuja.
While noting that Nigeria has done remarkably well in stemming the tide of HIV in the last 15 years, resulting in reduction of the prevalence of the disease, Aliyu maintained that “NACA’s focus is to ensure that HIV is 90 per cent under control.”