The National Agency for the Control of AIDS has said that it is possible to have a generation that is free of the infectious Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
In a press release marking this year’s Children’s Day and signed by the agency’s Head of Corporate Communications Unit, Mrs. Toyin Aderibigbe, the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, urged the nation to take a moment to think about children living with HIV and their families, with the overall goal of preventing further new HIV-positive babies by taking precautions against the infectious disease.
Lamenting the current rate of HIV infections in the country, Aliyu said, “Nigeria still accounts for a significant proportion of children living with HIV infection globally.
“This burden is fed by unrestrained mother-to-child (vertical) transmission of HIV and a dysfunctional Early Infant Diagnosis system.
“Even though there has been modest progress in antiretroviral coverage for pregnant women living with HIV, vertical transmission of HIV infection from infected mother to child remains high at an estimated 28 per cent of affected pregnancies.”
Relating his agencies efforts at curbing new infections and making treatment accessible to those currently living the disease, Aliyu said, “NACA has been working with partners to scale-up services for HIV prevention, care and support.
“In 2015, Nigeria successfully increased Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission services to over 7,265 sites, with 53,677 pregnant women placed on antiretroviral treatment.”
However, he said, despite this progress, a lot more still needs to be done to stop children getting infected with HIV.
“HIV/AIDS is a global health challenge of our lifetime, but we remain committed to fighting this virus to the finish.
“Research has led to innovation in preventing transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their children and an ever-widening scope of treatment options for children living with HIV and their families.
“Counselling and testing for HIV is crucial, especially among pregnant women, to protect the unborn child and ensure that in the very near future, an HIV-free generation is made possible.
“As we celebrate with our children, please join us and help us win the fight against HIV in children.
“No child should be born with HIV in Nigeria again,” Aliyu said.