Dr. Temitope Ilori, NACA
Dr. Temitope Ilori, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)

Nigeria Recorded 75,000 New HIV Infections in 2023 — NACA

Dr Temitope Ilori, the Director-General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), said 75,000 new infected HIV cases and 45,000 HIV-related deaths were recorded in 2023.

She made this known at a two-day National Prevention Technical Working Group (NPTWG) meeting organised by NACA in Abuja on Wednesday.

She said although there is gradual reduction in new HIV infections, there is a need to implement the recommendations made at the 2024 Nigeria HIV Prevention Conference and ongoing meeting to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030.

She added that “it is disheartening to know that in 2023, we had as much as 75,000 new infections and 45,000 HIV-related deaths.

“This is a cause for concern. And we also know that even in our Mother-To-Child Transmission, we are just about 35 to 40 per cent as against the 75 per cent target. So, we know we have a lot of work to do.”

Prof. Muhammad Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, therefore, urged stakeholders to discuss progress on actions and strategies taken toward preventing HIV transmission.

Pate, who was represented by Dr Bashorun Adebobola, the National Coordinator, National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCP), said: “we should strengthen our communication strategies in such a way that we can pass the right message.

“Even though we have made impressive gains, it does not mean that we are still not at risk or threat of a rebound of the infection and this is where communication needs to be strengthened so that we can achieve that overall goal before 2030.”

Dr Leo Zekeng, UNAIDS Country Director and Representative in Nigeria, noted that the nation, and many countries, are not on track to meeting the 2025 prevention target.

He said that ” in spite of remarkable progress, prevention of new HIV infections is still a challenge, as many countries, including Nigeria are not on track to meeting the 2025 prevention target.

“We are here as UNAIDS and UN system in support and solidarity to government’s efforts to address HIV prevention and appreciate the renewed and continued leadership of NACA on HIV prevention.

“From the 2023 estimates, 45,000 deaths and 75,000 new infections is huge. We still have a lot to do.”

Zekeng suggested that the roadmap to be developed should include quarterly performance framework for accountability and progress monitoring.

On his part, Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), stressed the need for HIV treatment as best option for prevention.

He said “once someone is living with HIV, he/she must adhere to medications, then definitely the chances of transmitting HIV to another person is zero.”

Evans Emerson, Deputy Country Coordinator, U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), emphasised the inclusion of youths, key populations and others to eliminate HIV as a public threat.

Emerson reiterated the commitment of the U.S. to support with funding to implement innovative strategies and approaches to HIV prevention and treatment in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NACA director-general also unveiled the 2024 HIV Prevention Conference Technical Report and Communique.