Home News UNAIDS, NACA to brainstorm at first-ever HIV prevention conference

UNAIDS, NACA to brainstorm at first-ever HIV prevention conference

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and other development partners on HIV/AIDs are set to optimise innovative HIV prevention strategies, to strategize for increased domestic funding to promote community ownership and ensure the sustainability of HIV initiatives.

This was contained in a statement signed by the NACA Head Public Relations and Protocol, Toyin Aderibigbe, which stated that the agency will host the first-ever Nigeria HIV prevention conference, from May 7 to 9, 2024.

She stated that the three-day conference themed, “Accelerating HIV prevention to end AIDS through innovations and community engagement” will showcase a diverse array of sessions, including dedicated tracks on youth empowerment, community engagement sessions, leadership discussions, plenary sessions, sponsored sessions, and special sessions.

The keynote speaker of the conference is the Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS Assistant Secretary-General, Angeli Achrekar.

The Director General of NACA, Dr Temitope Ilori emphasised the agency’s role in uniting stakeholders to accelerate progress towards ending the HIV epidemic in Nigeria.

Recently, Dr Ilori said Nigeria has the highest burden of children born with HIV/AIDS in the world, and there was a need for collaborative efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Generally, 1.8 million persons are estimated to be living with HIV in Nigeria, out of which about 1.63 million are already on the lifesaving medication of Antiretroviral Therapy.

Also, the national average of the Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV rate of 22 per cent is driven by a large number of states with transmission rates above 25 per cent and a few states with rates below 15 per cent.

Nigeria is responsible for about 30 per cent of the world’s gap in achieving the global target of eradicating MTCT of HIV.

Dr Ilori said the objectives of the conference include optimising innovative HIV prevention approaches towards achieving epidemic control, promoting equitable and inclusive human rights-based approaches to HIV prevention, and strategising for increased domestic funding towards community ownership and sustainability of HIV prevention programmes.

“The first ever HIV prevention conference will serve as a pivotal platform for everyone to unite in their efforts and effect tangible advancements towards ending the HIV epidemic in Nigeria,” she stated.

Ilori noted that the conference, which will be physical and virtual, will allow participants to explore a spectrum of innovative approaches and engagement strategies, with a particular emphasis on the transformative role young people can play in driving change.

She noted that the conference will adopt a hybrid format, allowing physical and virtual participation.

“We eagerly anticipate the attendance of policymakers, representatives from international organisations, academia, state delegates, non-governmental organisations, development partners, media professionals, and other stakeholders involved in the national response,” Ilori added.

The UNAIDS Country Director, Dr Leo Zekeng said the United Nations and UNAIDS envision a Nigeria with Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

“A Nigeria where everyone and everywhere has access to comprehensive, stigma-free HIV prevention, treatment, and support services to live a healthy and productive life.”

Zekeng said the vision can only become a reality by working together, across sectors and disciplines.

Also, the Country Coordination of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Ms Funmi Adesanya said Nigeria is a global leader amassed with innovation, potential, and a growing youth population who will serve as the next generation of policy leaders, educators, and change agents.

She said Nigeria also has the fourth largest HIV burden, with young people making up a disproportionate share of new infections.

She added, “Young people have been identified as a key priority for PEPFAR in its five-year strategic plan. We are proud to be partnering with the government of Nigeria through NACA in the upcoming conference, which serves as a platform for us to unite with the voices of the youth to close the tap on new infections and end the HIV epidemic in Nigeria.”

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