The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said on Tuesday that over 45,000 people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) died last year.
Immunisation Team Lead for WHO Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka and a representative of the UN agency, disclosed this at a press conference ahead of the 2020 World AIDS Day organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).
She said the death is really unacceptable and this whole thing is happening during the period where government, donors and partners have successfully made life-saving medication and commodities available.
The World AIDS Day is celebrated December 1 every year to honour the people who have fallen to the disease as well as people living with HIV.
It is also celebrated to raise awareness of the disease and the need for people to know their status.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility’.
Ms Braka said the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the progress that the world has made in health and development.
She also revealed that international agencies have gathered information from countries through an online platform to identify how the pandemic has affected the delivery of routine HIV services and emerging challenges.
Braka appreciated the country’s effort in achieving 73 per cent coverage concerning people knowing their HIV status despite challenges posed by the pandemic.
She, however, said more work needs to be done to get more people tested to know their status.
Director General of NACA, Gambo Aliyu, said Nigeria has adopted the theme, ‘United to End AIDS in the Midst of COVID-19, So Get Tested’ due to the pandemic ravaging the world.
“We have heard and seen the impact of it on HIV programs. Even though we are scrutinising our data to find out the real impact on people living with HIV and AIDS.
“One thing that we know without looking at our data, we know that in terms of very economic realities, COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact compared to other outbreak population,” he said.
He noted that the agency has launched a project, Prevent, Protect and Empower in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and supported by UNAIDS.
He said himself and his team are focusing more on women simply because in terms of equality because when it comes to businesses and empowerment, women are mostly disadvantaged.