Project Manager and Executive Secretary of Kogi State Agency for the Control of AIDS (KOSACA), Mr. Shaibu Williams Danjuma said the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the state has reduced by 0.9% from 5.8 percent in previous years.
Addressing a joint press conference in Lokoja on Sunday alongside Kogi state Co-ordinator of Civil Society on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), Mrs. Christy Abayomi-Oluwole, Danjuma raised the alarm that 40.96 percent or 16,493 of persons living with HIV in the state are currently not on ART treatment.
He warned that this poses risk of new HIV infections among HIV naïve populations due to sex with more than one concurrent partners, cultural practices, attitudes and behaviors that will make them to probably contract HIV then expose them to immunosuppression challenges as PLHIV.
The national AIDS indicator and impact survey (NAIIS) 2018 estimates that over 40,000 persons out of a population of about 3 million, are living with HIV in Kogi state and little over half of these persons are on treatment despite over 20 years of HIV intervention in Nigeria.
Danjuma said it is as lamentable that 200 out of 250 prevention of Mother-to Child Transmission healthcare facilities have been left to the state government to take over their funding as only 50 are now being funded by PEPFAR and warned that the implication of the decision is that the immunosuppressed case findings in the communities could boomerang into the spread of HIV undesirably.
According to Mrs Abayomi-Oluwole of CISHAN, for Nigeria to achieve its campaign on “undetectable = untransmittable” (U Equal U) aimed at zero infection rate, there must be increased involvement of every stakeholders both civil society and government through improved funding commitment, sustainable ownership and strong positive attitude by those infected as there is lack of effective legal and coordinating framework that empower KOSACA, since its inception.
CISHAN, however, appealed to the state government to provide equitable and cost effective access to HIV services for key and vulnerable populations of the state.
KOSACA and CISHAN said the strong advocacy role played by communities in Nigeria is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS become a top priority on the political agenda of governments in Nigeria against the backdrop of the 95-95-95 targets of the UNAIDS.
The groups added that the state has not achieved any of the targets with just a little over 10 years to the 2030 UN deadline for 95 percent HIV suppression globally.
The 95-95-95 targets of the UNAIDS stipulates that 95 percent of those with HIV know their status, 95 percent of those who know their status should be on life saving HIV treatment and 95 percent of those on treatment should have viral suppression to prevent transmission of the virus.
In line with the theme of this year’s World Aids Day commemoration 2019, KOSACA and the state chapter of CISHAN said urgent removal of the barriers and obstacles to greater community involvement in HIV and AIDS control programmes at community level, can make the difference in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS infections in Nigeria.
The theme of this year’s event is “communities make the difference.”