By Haruna Gimba
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) said at least one million Nigerians risks losing their lives to HIV/AIDS if the federal government does not take control of the full sponsorship of the treatment.
Director-General of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, said Nigeria must take full sponsorship of its HIV/AIDS programme or risk losing one million of its citizens currently living with the disease before 2022.
Dr Aliyu, who stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday, said taking ownership of the programme by Nigeria had become imperative in view of the dwindling resources coming from foreign donors for the programme.
He said at the moment, almost one million Nigerians are on HIV treatment with only about 60,000 of them being catered for by the federal government through the Taraba and Abia project.
The director general said about 700,000 HIV positive Nigerians were catered for by the United States government, while the remaining 240,000 people were being treated through funds donated by other global organizations.
“If our major donors decide to stop funding HIV/AIDS programme, almost a million Nigerians will come off the treatments. I can tell you as a physician that if those one million people are out of treatment statistically most of them will be dead in the next five years,” he said.
He added that it is a national security issue and the HIV treatment is now affordable, adding that the country need to start taking ownership of the programme.
He said: “Sooner or later those funds will dwindle and they will go away. At the moment, we have an opportunity because in the last few weeks we have just crossed the tipping point for the epidemic.
“The tipping point for the epidemic is when we have more people going on treatment than we have new infections, which means that the epidemic is on real downward trend and therefore we need to maintain that momentum.”
Dr Aliyu, whose agency supervises the management and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, expressed optimism that the country would be able to achieve the 90-90-90 per cent objective (90 per cent will have HIV; 90 per cent are on treatment and 90 per cent are biologically suppressed) by 2030.