By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Executive Director of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ms Winnie Byanyima has disclosed that Nigeria contributes about 1 million patients on life-saving HIV treatment out of 23 million people living with HIV worldwide while 15 million people are yet to be reached.
She made the disclosure at the commemoration of 2019 World AIDS Day and official National Launch of the Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) Campaign in Nigeria with the Theme: “Communities Make Difference” 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).
“Today, Nigeria is part of a wonderful history. We have 23 million people living with HIV who are receiving treatments worldwide. Nigeria contributes a million of that, a big history of the largest number of people on treatment.
“15 million people are yet to be reached, so we still have distance to go. In Nigeria, we are talking about half a million HIV people who are still need of treatments” she stressed.
The UN Executive Director who was represented by the Country Director, Mr. Erasmus Morah lamented that in Nigeria, half a million people living with HIV are in need of the treatments which include the vulnerable and marginalized communities that makes the difference, those who already have issues before HIV come on board such as gay men, transgender, those affected with drugs and sex workers others.
She was of the opinion that UN these group special because the UN demand for people’s right, to protect, dignity to every humanity, gives voice to the voiceless and help to deliver services, saying most importantly to fight sigma and discrimination.
“UN wants these communities to be acknowledged for the difference that they make, involve them in policy, planning and budgeting but especially when fund is involved to influence how money is allocated, support them to push for policy reforms or change laws that are bad.
“As for government, donors and, agencies, they should invest in the special communities” Ms Byanyima said.
Launching the Campaign, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan reaffirmed Nigeria commitment, through all the relevant communities to make the difference in the National HIV Response to attain the 90-90-90 goal by the end of 2020.
Represented by Senator Utazi Chukwuka, Senator Lawal stated that the campaign is important to all as it conveys to Nigerians living with HIV that their undetectable viral load protects their own health, the health of their families and prevent new HIV infections.
According to Senator Lawal, the campaign is central to reminding policymakers, elected representatives, multilateral and unilateral and Organizations that access to viral load testing needs to be universe for Nigerians living with HIV.
“With the unveiling of this campaign, we joining the rest of the international community to raise the consciousness of all Nigerians to the fact that Undetectable viral load equals to Untransmittable virus.
“With the unveiling of this campaign, we stand with Nigerians living with HIV to support their goal of viral load suppression” He said.