HIV and AIDS Still Killing, By Yahaya Mohammed Usman
The campaign against HIV and Aids has taken a back stage lately, but then it is still there and very -potent too! the number of lives being destroyed by the scourge is better left to imagination, not every person believes that aids is real and in some cases superstitious and religious believes have laid siege to the thinking scope of the Nigerian citizens that they tend to view HIV and Aids as a spell or a curse by unknown and unseen forces of nature, but that believe is absolutely far from the truth.
The truth is that HIV and aids is caused by human activities just like typhoid, malaria and several other ailments though they differ in treatment and management, while HIV and AIDS have no known scientifically proven cure yet it exist within us and a lot of our fellow compatriots are afflicted.
A few days ago I participated in the of funeral of a relative who lost his live to the scourge of HIV and AIDS, this painful loss formed half of the inspiration for this piece, while the other half of the inspiration is to re-awaken all concern that while we keep quiet and do nothing HIV and Aids is busy killing the youth of this great nation with reckless abandonment, HIV kills even more than Boko Haram plus poverty put together.
Unfortunately by the time the death comes for most of the sufferers, the family is left with serious anguish and pain, where the deceased is the bread winner the dependants are left in the cold with nothing to fall back on, as most sufferers are poor and what they might have worked for in their life time is consumed in the management period of the disease.
The first two cases of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria were identified in 1985 and were reported at an international AIDS conference in 1986. In 1987 the Nigerian health sector established the National AIDS Advisory Committee, which was shortly followed by the establishment of the National Expert Advisory Committee on AIDS (NEACA). At first the Nigerian government was slow to respond to the increasing rates of HIV transmission and it was only in 1991 that the Federal Ministry of Health made their first attempt to assess the situation with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria. The results showed that around 1.8 percent of the population of Nigeria was infected with HIV. Subsequent surveillance reports revealed that during the 1990s HIV prevalence rose from 3.8 percent in 1993 to 5.4 percent in 1999. Following a peak of 5.8 percent in 2001, HIV prevalence then declined steadily throughout the decade. When antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) were introduced in Nigeria in the early 1990s, they were only available to those who paid for them. As the cost of the drugs was very high at this time and the overwhelming majority of Nigerians were living on less than $2 a day, only the wealthy minority were able to afford the treatment. When Olusegun Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria in 1999, HIV prevention, treatment and care became one of the government’s primary concerns. The President’s Committee on AIDS and the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) were created, and in 2001, the government set up a three-year HIV/AIDS Emergency Action Plan (HEAP). In the same year, Obasanjo hosted the Organisation of African Unity’s first African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Other Related Infectious Diseases.
In 2002 the Nigerian government started an ambitious antiretroviral treatment programme, which aimed to supply 10,000 adults and 5,000 children with antiretroviral drugs within one year. An initial $3.5 million worth of ARVs were to be imported from India and delivered at a subsidized monthly cost of $7 per person. The programme was announced as ‘Africa’s largest antiretroviral treatment programme’. By 2004 the programme had suffered a major setback as too many patients were being recruited without a big enough supply of drugs to hand out. This resulted in an expanding waiting list and not enough drugs to supply the high demand. The patients who had already started the treatment then had to wait for up to three months for more drugs, which can not only reverse the progress the drugs have already made, but can also increase HIV drug resistance.
Eventually, another $3.8 million worth of drugs were ordered and the programme resumed. ARVs were being administered in only 25 treatment centres across the country which was a far from adequate attempt at helping the estimated 550,000 people requiring antiretroviral therapy. Despite increased efforts to control the epidemic, by 2006 it was estimated that just 10 percent of HIV-infected women and men were receiving antiretroviral therapy and only 7 percent of pregnant women were receiving treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. As a result, in 2006 Nigeria opened up 41 new AIDS treatment centres and started handing out free ARVs to those who needed them. Treatment scale-up between 2006 and2007 was impressive, rising from 81,000 people (15 percent of those in need) to 198,000 (26 percent) by the end of 2007. Nigeria’s programme to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child (PMTCT) started in July 2002. Despite efforts to strengthen PMTCT interventions, by 2007 only 5.3 percent of HIV positive women were receiving antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. This figure had risen to almost 22 percent by 2009, but still remained far short of universal access targets which aim for 80 percent coverage. In 2010 NACA launched its comprehensive National Strategic Framework to cover 2010 to 2015, which required an estimated N756 billion (around US$ 5 billion) to implement. Some of the main aims included in the framework are to reach 80 percent of sexually active adults and 80 percent of most at-risk populations with HIV counseling and testing by 2015, ensure 80 percent of eligible adults and 100 percent of eligible children are receiving ART by 2015; and to improve access to quality care and support services to at least 50 percent of people living with HIV by 2015. Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa and the 12th largest in the world, Nigeria is ranked 156 out of 187 on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Poverty Index. This poor development position has meant that Nigeria is faced with huge challenges in fighting its HIV and AIDS epidemic in Nigeria.
The news will not be cheering at all until this killer disease is erased from the surface of the earth even though statistics show that there is a an average percentage drop in the rate of infection from the past, it is still heart rending for anyone to die from it.
Judging from my interaction with most of the people suffering from this killer disease, though there is refusal to admit, there life style contributed directly to their contracting the ailment, while poverty, superstition and lack of adequate information aggravates it, by the time they accept the reality, the damage has being done, and more often than not, they die few days after.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com