1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria – Senate

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan also got employment slots
Senate President Ahmad Lawan

*Appeals against stigmatization, discrimination of persons living with the virus

The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to ensure adequate funding of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) for the fight and control of the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the country.

The Senate says 1.9 million people are currently living with HIV in Nigeria and that urgent action must be taken to stem the spread of the disease.

This was even as the upper chamber appealed to Nigerians not to stigmatize and discriminate against persons living with the virus, as well as advised all adults to know their HIV status by subjecting themselves to screening.

Accordingly, the Senate also called on the private Sector in the country to embrace the fight against HIV/AIDS by partnering with Government to fund the exercise.

These were resolutions reached by the Senate after consideration of a motion on “World Aids Day” sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North).

Utazi, who brought forward his motion through orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, said there are fears in the HIV community that intervention funders may leave Nigeria soon for places where the deadly virus is yet to be kept at bay.

The lawmaker stated that such fears were as a result of the outcome of the report of the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in March, this year, which showed that prevalence of the virus in Nigeria dropped from 2.8 percent to 1.4 percent among adults aged 15-49 years.

According to Utazi, out of the 1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria, over a million of them are currently accessing treatment to achieve viral suppression.

He added, “With the appreciable control of this epidemic and the increasing expectation of further shrinking, the usual funding from foreign donors will equally shrink leaving Nigeria to battle in funding the management and care of people with HIV.”

Worried about the sustainability of the fight against HIV infection and control in Nigeria, the lawmaker posited that in a situation where funding partners pull out of the country, it would become imperative for private sector involvement in raising the needed fund to support government at the Federal and State levels.

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