Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate
Worried by the increase in HIV/AIDS infection in the country, the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is organising a forum for all communities across the country in solidarity, and to build a common consensus amongst stakeholders by expanding the frontiers of support to enable more people know their status.
The forum slated for December 1 in Abuja is to mark the 2012 World AIDS Day with the theme “Getting to Zero.”
According a statement signed by the foundation Country’s Director, Dr. Wale Salami, the theme selected by the World AIDS day Global Steering Committee is about the need to reduce new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS related deaths to zero, through increased advances and equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.
He lamented that this year alone, the country had recorded about 300,000 new HIV infections, saying Nigeria now carries the second highest global burden of HIV/AIDS after South Africa with about 3.1 million persons living with the disease.
“From this figure, about 1.5 requires treatment, meanwhile, less than 360,000, have access to treatment. As at today, less than 20 percent of Nigerians have conducted an HIV/AIDS test,” he said.
Salami revealed that given the huge gap that existed between access to and need for life-saving medicines and care to treat HIV/AIDS, AHF would use the avenue to join other partners in reducing new HIV infections, stamping out HIV based discrimination and AIDS related deaths to zero through ensuring equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care in the country.
Speaking further, the director stated that the fact that the youth population are more susceptible to the infection, especially young women, who bears disproportionate impact of the AIDS burden, “we are working with a network of young positive individuals who shall lead our awareness procession from Eagle Square to the Millennium Park where we shall offer free voluntary Counseling and Testing services to the people.”