Prof. Sulaimon Akanmu of Haematology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, says evidence abound that rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria has dropped.
Akanmu made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the challenges that HIV/AIDS had taken a back stage in 2020 due to emergence of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, on the whole, we have evidence that the rate of transmission of the virus in the community as a whole has come down.
“This is not because sexual behaviour of human beings have slightly change.
“It is because of effectiveness of a number of biomedical interventions, preventive biomedical prevention that have been put in place.
“This is why you will also notice that prevalence of the virus has actually come down in nearly all communities, including Nigeria,’’ he said.
The haematologist said the decrease in the transmission of HIV from one person to the other was not because human beings have changed their behaviour significantly, particularly, hetero sexual sex and disloyalty in marriages.
“It is not as if human beings have better their behaviour. We essentially believe that the changes we have seen is as a result of successes that biomedical intervention in the areas of prevention has been able to achieve.
“In particular, our successes in being able to prevent a woman from transmitting the virus to her child born and unborn, which we refer to as the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV services.
“We essentially believe that the availability of anti-retroviral therapy today leads us to achieve a very, very important goal of therapy. Today, we now have very, very effective anti-retroviral drugs.
“If we go back to the early 1998, 1999, year 2000, 2001 up to 2005, you will see that the prevalence of HIV in Nigeria was as high as 5.8 per cent.
“It means that approximately five per cent of Nigerians in the age bracket that are easily HIV infectable, aged 50 to 49 (5.8 per cent) of that particular population are HIV infected in Nigeria.
“But, that figure has gradually climbed down from 5.8. I think around 2003, it was five to 4.6 through 3.5, 3.2, 2.8 to what we now have in 2018,’’ he said.
Akanmu said that Nigeria has the most fantastic, the most robust survey that is looking at what was the magnitude of HIV in the country.
“We now believe that the prevalence of HIV in Nigeria, among the age stratum that is easily infectable, is 1.4 per cent.
“It translates to the fact that the total number of people that we now estimate in Nigeria that are living with HIV/AIDS is about 1.94 million people, but that is still a very large number.
“The problem with HIV/AIDS is that once an individual has it, we run into trouble, because we do not have the mechanism of ridding the body of that virus.
“We are going to continue to live with the virus for the rest of our life.’’
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