The Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof John Idoko, has said that about 1,000 new cases of HIV infections are discovered daily in Nigeria.
Speaking, yesterday, at the Post International AIDS Society Conference meeting in Abuja, he said that the country was ready to use any globally accepted strategy to help combat the spread of the scourge.
According to Idoko, the recently concluded Conference of the AIDS Society in USA, has further proved the effectiveness of contemporary drugs and models such as PrExposure, and Postexposure Prophylaxis, Combination Prevention Therapy, Tenofovir Microbicide and Placebo Gel which are being used to contain the spread of the virus globally. This was just as participants at the Conference reported the degree of workability of those models and drugs in surveyed regions across the globe.
NACA chief said that various surveys had shown that persons who adhere strictly to the prescriptions of different drugs used for either prevention or treatment of the disease always realised the effectiveness of such drugs.
He expressed worry that reducing the country’s prevalence rate looked gloomy as donor agencies who provide 75 per cent funding warned that the funds might dwindle due to global recession.
Presently, Nigeria has the second highest HIV/AIDS burden next to South Africa with 4.1 prevalence rate.
He said that buying drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS with donor funds would spell doom for the country if the funds were cut, as Nigeria only provided a little over 25 percent to fund its programmes.
He lamented that though the country has good strategies to scale up preventive measures, eliminate mother to child transmission, adequate funds to implement these programmes remained a big barrier as only few innovations have scaled through.
He said, “we need to take ownership of our programmes, we only have 0.5 million persons on ART, while we should be tripling that number. South Africa invested over $1 billion in the HIV/AIDS struggle in 2010 and has since decided to increase the amount to $2 billion in 2012, even as they have succeeded in testing over five million persons”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr David Okello, said that it was obvious that increased funding was required in the HIV/AIDS campaigns as people’s lives depend on it.