BY: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Director-General of National Agency for The Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Aliyu Gumel Gambo has said that achieving epidemic control of HIV/AIDS will require more resources in the form of community time and effort to educate the society, fight stigma and discrimination to improve access to HIV services by every member of the community.
Dr. Gambo disclosed this in his welcome address at the 2019 World AIDS Day while declaring the official National Launch of the Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) Campaign in Nigeria with the Theme: “Communities Make Difference open” in Collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
He explained that communities working with Nigeria in the last 15 years have succeeded in reducing HIV prevalence from 4.4% in 2015 to 1.4% in 2018, saying the outstanding performance had put Nigeria on the path of achieving HIV epidemic control.
The DG of NACA said the effort of communities are more than ever needed to ensure that HIV remains on the political agenda and galvanized international and national funding for HIV to ensure the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals are achieved and sustained.
Dr. Gambo lamented that the challenge before government, donor agencies and communities in 2020 is to accelerate the mile push by ensuring every member of the community know about their HIV status and make proactive steps to remain healthy.
“This year’s theme “Communities make the difference” acknowledges the essential role communities play in the global HIV response. Communities include network of people living with or are affected by HIV, women and young people, peer educators, conusellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers among other.
“Importantly, we need to ensure our programs for prevention, treatment and care are community compliant, targeted, cost efficient and sustainable. This is possible with meaningful community engagement in planning, budgeting and implementation of our interventions programs.
“Communities are better able to reflect on the needs of the people they represent, lead and implement programs that are cost effective with greater potential for impact. This is time for us to support communities financially, legally and politically towards a more sustainable response.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with one of our primary community, Nigerians living with HIV. The evidence that people infected with HIV who are virally suppressed cannot sexually transmit the virus to their HIV negative couples or sexual partners has been available since early 2000. Repeated studies found no single virally suppressed HIV positive individual transmitted their infection to their partner.
“Therefore, when Nigeria says that Undetectable Viral Load Equals Untransmittable Virus, Nigeria is joining the international community in basing her position on solid scientific evidence. The drive for Undetectable viral load to achieve Untransmittable virus is promoting the benefits of ARV treatment for Nigerians living with HIV while encouraging more HIV positive Nigerians to access treatment” He ended