The Director-General of National Action for the Control of AIDS, Dr Sani Aliyu, says the world is about 10 to 15 years close to attaining treatment or total cure of HIV.
Aliyu stated this at a three-day regional workshop for country coordinators of International Community of Women Living with HIV West Africa aimed at achieving catch up plans and attainment of 90-90-90 global prevention targets.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and partners had in 2014 launched the 90–90–90 targets.
It is aimed at diagnosing 90 per cent of all HIV-positive persons, providing antiretroviral therapy for 90 per cent of those diagnosed and achieving viral suppression for 90 per cent of those treated by 2020.
The director-general said although there was no cure presently for the epidemic, there was however, a very effective treatment which would give people living with the virus opportunity to live a normal life.
He said: “In Nigeria, only about one in four Nigerians have had the HIV test done.
“Our survey in the past shows that majority, up to 80 per cent Nigerians, would love to have the HIV test done.”
Aliyu, however, listed challenges in the HIV fight to include lack of advocacy, access to testing and general knowledge about HIV.
He said: “Addressing key population groups and other groups that are vulnerable to HIV such as young women; as well as addressing structural and social factors.’’
He said most countries were attaining the targets or about to hit the target 90-90-90, but Nigeria’s biggest challenge was the first 90 as only about three per cent of people living with HIV know their diagnosis.
Aliyu said the agency had a strategic plan for 2019 to reduce the rate of Persons Living With HIV/AIDS, saying there will be community participation and engagement in remotes areas.
He added that there would be decentralisation of services, improvement of laboratory services and point of care test to improve the services; as well as provision of a strengthened healthcare system aimed at addressing the barriers to accessing treatment.
He said: “About 60 per cent new HIV infections are women, unlike men that have other prevention interventions that achieve a lot, so there is need to prioritise the challenges among women.
“Government is committed to the continuous work with CSOs that deals with Persons Living With HIV, we cannot have policies without engaging them.
“With HIV, we have gone long way in terms of global response and strong advocacy role by the CSOs, but there is need to address the issues of gender based violence and discrimination.”
The Regional Chairperson ICWWA, Ndeye Dioup, said the workshop was aimed at strengthening the capacity and influence of ICWWA for countries to fully implement strategies to access HIV prevention and care services.