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Monday, 28 November 2016

HIV/AIDS: 78m infected, 35m dead

As Nigeria joins the international community to mark the World AIDS Day 2016 this week, experts say that approximately 78 million people have been infected with HIV, while 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported.

Expressing Nigeria’s commitment to joining the rest of the world in the drive to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Director General of the National Agency for the Controls of AIDS, Dr. Kayode Ogungbemi, noted that countries — including Nigeria — are getting on the Fast-Track, as more than 18 million people globally are currently on life-saving HIV treatment; even as Nigeria is also on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child.

In his speech marking this year’s celebration, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Michel Sidibé, lamented that, “We are winning against the AIDS epidemic, but we are not seeing progress everywhere.

“The number of new HIV infections is not declining among adults, with young women particularly at risk of becoming infected with HIV.

“We know that for girls in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition to adulthood is a particularly dangerous time. Young women are facing a triple threat: a high risk of HIV infection, low rates of HIV testing and poor adherence to HIV treatment.”

Ogungbemi however expresses hope that with access to treatment, people living with HIV are living longer; noting that government’s investment in HIV treatment is paying off, even if progress has been slow.

He advised people to go for screening to determine their HIV status, while he also urged those living with the virus to continue to access the antiretroviral medicines that will protect them from progressing to AIDS.

Said Sidibé, “The success we have achieved so far gives us hope for the future, but as we look ahead we must remember not to be complacent. We cannot stop now.

“This is the time to move forward together to ensure that all children start their lives free from HIV, that young people and adults grow up and stay free from HIV and that treatment becomes more accessible so that everyone stays AIDS-free.”

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