As an affirmation to the progress made in the war against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, the National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim has attested to the fact that patients are responding to treatment, as some of their viral loads are now undetected.
Nonetheless, this does not connotes victory over the infectious disease, as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS has disclosed that over 12 million people living with HIV still do not have access to life-saving HIV treatment.
Speaking on the occasion of World AIDS Day, WAD 2020, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, said inaccessibility to essential services made about 1.7 million people became infected with HIV in 2019 and those factors are still unaddressed today.
Ibrahim, who has been on antiretroviral treatment for 11 years, appreciated the Nigerian government and the government of the United States for their magnanimity in the provision of ARVs for People Living with HIV/AIDS.
In his remarks during the World AIDS Day Programme, organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA with the launch of Strategic Document and an Annual Lecture, on Tuesday, at theTranscorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, the National Coordinator NEPWHAN affirmed the efficacy of ARVs in the country.
“I am a living testimony that HIV treatment is working as I have being on antiretroviral therapy for 11 years.
“I thank Nigeria Government and the Government of United States for their support for People Living with HIV/AIDS”, he stated.
He however stressed the need for more support, saying lack of funding for healthcare has predisposed several countries to the infection, of which they are still grappling with till date.
In his statement on the theme of the WAD 2020, “Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility”, Ibrahim called for more involvement of all stakeholders in the campaign against HIV/AIDS, noting that no one should be left behind.
“It is within this context that NEPWHAN commenced the implementation of the community-led monitoring initiative in Nigeria by collecting quantitative and qualitative data among people living with HIV.
”While we look forward to continued collaboration, working and partnering with everyone for the interest of people living with the virus and ending HIV by 2030, I want to appeal for support to government in the fight against HIV”, he appealed.
The UNAIDS Executive Director, in a statement obtained from UNAIDS website, highlighted barriers to access healthcare for People Living with HIV/AIDS to include: gender inequality, racial inequality, social and economic inequalities, saying the world is altogether becoming an unequal world for global citizens. “We are becoming a more unequal world”.
Byanyima continued: “Our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic was already off track before COVID-19. We must put people first to get the AIDS response back on track. We must end the social injustices that put people at risk of contracting HIV. And we must fight for the right to health. There is no excuse for governments to not invest fully for universal access to health. Barriers such as up-front user fees that lock people out of health must come down”, she emphasised.
In winning the war against HIV/AIDS amidst COVID-19, she said “only global solidarity and shared responsibility will help us beat the coronavirus, end the AIDS epidemic and guarantee the right to health for all”.