Martins Ifijeh

Despite progress in antiretroviral coverage for pregnant women living with Human Immuno Virus (HIV) in Nigeria, the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, said vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child still remains high at an estimated 28 per cent of affected pregnancies in the country.

He said hence, Nigeria still accounts for a significant proportion of children living with HIV infection, a burden he notes was fed by unrestrained mother-to-child transmission and the dysfunctional Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) system.

Speaking in a message to mark Children’s Day, he 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 (PMTCT) services to over 7,265 sites with 53,677 pregnant women placed on antiretroviral treatment. Despite this progress, a lot more 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 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, a HIV-free generation is made possible,” he said.