By Ralph Christopher
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have disclosed that at least 45,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS had died in Nigeria in 2019.
Speaking on Tuesday at a press conference ahead of the 2020 World AIDS Day organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)., Ms. Fiona Braka, a representative of the UN agency, declared that the death rate is “unacceptable”.
She expressed worry that “it’s happening in an era where government, donors and partners have successfully made life-saving medication and commodities available”.
The World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1 every year to honour people who have fallen to the disease as well as people living with HIV.
It is also celebrated to raise awareness of the disease and the need for people to know their status.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Global Solidarity, Shared responsibility’.
Ms. Braka also said that COVID-19 pandemic is threatening global progress in health and development, adding that international agencies had collected data from countries through online platforms to identify how the pandemic affected the delivery of routine HIV services and emerging challenges.
She commended the country’s effort in achieving 73 per cent coverage especially on people knowing their HIV status, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
In his remarks, the Director-General of NACA, Gambo Aliyu, said that Nigeria adopted the theme, ‘United to End AIDS in the Midst of COVID-19, So Get Tested’, due to the global effects of the covid-19 pandemic.
He said the 2020 HIV/AIDS response has been made more difficult because of the corona virus outbreak.
“We have heard and seen the impact of it on HIV programs, even though we are scrutinising our data to find out the real impact on people living with HIV and AIDS.
“One thing, without looking at our data, in terms of economic realities, is that covid-19 has had an adverse economic impact compared to other outbreak population,” he said.
He explained that the agency has launched a project, “Prevent, Protect and Empower: in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and supported by UNAIDS to cushion the effects of the pandemic on HIV/AIDS carriers.