45,000 Nigerians Died of HIV-AIDS in 2019, Says WHO

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…As NACA moves to empower women

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that an estimated 45,000 persons living with HIV in Nigeria lost their lives last year.

Speaking at an event to mark the 2020 World AIDS Day in Abuja organised by the National Action Against AIDS (NACA), the Country Representative of the WHO, Dr. Fiona Braka said progress has been made in the effort to achieve 90-90-90 target in the country.

She said that about 73 per cent of the person’s living with HIV in the country now know their status.

“This is a great achievement for the country but we need to do more. Identifying persons who are positive is urgent and becomes more challenging as we approach the last mile, ” she said.

The WHO Scribe however regretted that despite the efforts of government and donor agencies towards providing life-saving medication and commodities, the country still recorded 45,000 deaths in 2019 of persons infected with HIV.

“As we appreciate the achievements recorded, let us take a moment to reflect on the lives that has been lost due to AIDS related cause.

“In 2019, an estimated 45,000 persons with HIV died. This is unacceptable as it is happening at an era where government, donors and partners have successfully made life-saving medication and commodities available,” she said.

On his part, the Director General of NACA, Dr. Gsmbo Aliyu said that the agency has mapped plans to implement an economic empowerment programmes toa assist vulnerable persons living with HIV in our communities who cannot earn a living.

He said COVID-19 pandemic has had a very negative impact on the progress made in tackling AIDS in the country.

He said NACA will in the coming days flag off the implementation of the empowerment scheme with its officials moving into various communities to reach out to needy persons living with HIV.

According to him, the agency believed that through the empowerment scheme, being supported by UNAIDS, the affected persons would be helped to set up small scale businesses and be able to earn a living.

“Recently we launched an initiative in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and with the support from UNAIDS, tagged ” Prevent, Protect and Empower” to help people living with HIV/AIDS that find it difficult to visit hospital facilities to collect medication and those women among them that find it difficult to earn a living,” he said.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA who was represented at the event by Dr. Babatunde Okalekun said findings have shown that adolescents and young persons were mostly infected by HIV/AIDS in the country.