By Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu
The Anambra State Aids Control Agency (ANSACA), says no fewer than 98,960 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Anambra.
Dr Afam Obidike, Commissioner for Health in Anambra, gave the statistics on Thursday in Awka during a media briefing ahead of 2023 World AIDS Day, observed every Dec. 1 since 1988.
World AIDS Day is commemorated globally to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and honour the lives of those affected by the epidemic.
This year’s commemoration had the global theme ‘Let Communities Lead” and domesticated in Nigeria as ‘Communities’ Leadership to end AIDS by 2030′.
Obidike said: “With the national prevalence of 1.4 per cent, our state HIV prevalence is ranked 5th highest in the country and the highest in South East.
“It is estimated that 98,960 residents are living with HIV out of which 58 per cent know their status and only 44,808 are currently on treatment.”
He said the state was making the needed progress towards attaining the Global 95-95-95 targets, “of which we are at 65:81:93.”
“Worthy of note is the gradual decline in new infections which is at 46 per cent between 2021 and 2023 and AIDS related death which is at 32 per cent between 2021 and 2023.
“We have scaled up Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission services to ensure that no woman transmits this infection to her baby. The good news is that with the advent of Anti Retro-viral Therapy (ART), HIV is no longer a death sentence,” he said.
The Commissioner said the state was also scaling up access to HIV self-testing to tackle stigma and discrimination.
Dr Afam Anaeme, Director, Public Health, described HIV/AIDS as one of the diseases of public health importance.
Anaeme said the disease is transmitted from person to person through body fluids during sexual activities, mother to child during pregnancy, labour and delivery, breast feeding, blood transfusion and risky sexual behaviours.
He said there was the need for community involvement in planning, implementation and monitoring of HIV programmes as well as access to relevant prevention, treatment and care services.
“Communities are people living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV and they need to lead the frontline of progress in the HIV response.
“With the participation of everyone, we can reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Anambra,” he said.
In his remarks, Executive Director of ANSACA, Mr Johnbosco Ementa, urged residents to take advantage of the free testing centres across the state to know their status.
He said that the state government
increased the number of HIV treatment sites from 104 to 1,182, with the collaboration of implementing partners.
“ANSACA also deployed mobile testing units, home-based testing, and community outreaches, to significantly improve HIV testing coverage and accessibility.
“We appreciate our partners – Achieving Health Nigeria Initiative, AIDS Health-care Foundation, UNAIDS, CHAI and Global Fund for their support,” he said.(NAN)