As Nigerians join the rest of the world to celebrate the World AIDS’ Day, the World Health Organisation has said in 2020, HIV has claimed almost 33 million lives so far.
The global health body says HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, however, with increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.
In a statement obtained from the agency’s site, it was revealed that an estimated 38 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2019.
“As a result of concerted international efforts to respond to HIV, coverage of services has been steadily increasing. In 2019, 68 percent of adults and 53 percent of children living with HIV globally were receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy.
“A great majority (85 per cent) of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV also received ART, which not only protects their health, but also ensures prevention of HIV transmission to their new-borns,” WHO said.
However, not everyone is able to access HIV testing, treatment, and care. Notably, the 2018 Super-Fast-Track targets for reducing new paediatric HIV infections to 40,000 was not achieved. Global targets for 2020 are at risk of being missed unless rapid action is taken.
It also said that at the end of 2019, an estimated 81 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status. 67 per cent were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 59 per cent had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with no risk of infecting others.
The body added that by June 2020, 26 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, maing a 2.4 per cent increase from an estimate of 25.4 million at the end of 2019. By comparison, treatment coverage increased by an estimated 4.8 per cent between January and June of 2019.
According to the World Health Organisation, several studies confirmed that if an HIV-positive person is taking ART and is virally suppressed, they do not transmit HIV to their uninfected sexual partners.
The agency advised that all people living with HIV should be offered ART with the main aim of saving lives and contributing to reducing HIV transmission.
According to a 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey published on UNAIDS, the prevalence of HIV among adults age 15-64 years was 1.4 percent, 1.8 percent among females, and 1.0 percent among males.
The analysis also shows that the prevalence of HIV among children age 0-14 years was 0.1 percent.
“Prevalence of viral load suppression among PLHIV age 15-64 years in Nigeria was 43.1 percent, 45.5 percent among females and 38.8 percent among males.
“HIV prevalence was the highest among females age 35-39 years at 3.1 percent and the highest among males age 50-54 years at 2.3 percent. The HIV prevalence gender disparity between females and males was greatest among younger adults, with females age 35-39 years (3.1 percent) having 2 times the prevalence of males in the same age group (1.4 percent).
“Among adults age 15-64 years, HIV prevalence by state ranged from 4.8 percent in Akwa-Ibom, 1.4 per cent in Abuja and Benue States to 0.3 percent in Jigawa and Katsina States.
“Viral Load Suppression (VLS) among People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) was the highest among males age 55- 64 years at 52.3 percent and the highest among females age 45-54 years at 53.7 percent. The VLS gender disparity between females and males was greatest among those aged 0-14 years, with females age 0-14 years (31.7 percent) almost 3 times more likely to have viral suppression compared to males in the same age group (10.6 percent),” the analysis showed.
According to the analysis, 90 percent of PLHIV are expected to know their status by 2020, 90 percent diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained Antiretroviral Therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression.
“The diagnosis carried out among PLHIV aged 15-64 years, 46.9 percent self-reported knowing their HIV Status or had detectable ARVs in their blood, 40.9 percent of males and 50.3 percent of females,” it noted.
On treatment, the data shows that among PLHIV age 15-64 years who knew their HIV status, 96.4 percent self-reported being on ART or had detectable ARVs in the blood, 97.8 percent of males and 95.8 percent of females.
The body says currently there is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective prevention interventions are available: preventing mother-to-child-transmission, male and female condom use, harm reduction interventions, pre-exposure prophylaxis, post exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) which can control the virus and help prevent onward transmission to other people.