valentine's day unprotected sex National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). HIV Deaths Failure Medication RISE HIV/AIDS
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)

Sex, Hard Drug Users Top Sources of HIV Transmission – NACA

The Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, says sex and the use of injections by hard drug users are the major sources through which people contract the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

He warned that sharing needles and syringes could also expose people to HIV. He said stigmatization remained a problem but that more people were coming for tests.

Other sources of HIV transmission, according to him are unsafe blood transfusion and accidental needle stick injuries among health workers.

He stated, “Sex is the commonest source of people contract HIV. Other potent sources are the injection (hard) drug users; they are the next. Those are the two most powerful sources of transmission of HIV.

“Apart from those two, all others are accidental; the ones that happen during blood transmission are not intended. It is minimal but it should not be happening. The needle prick should not happen if cautions are taken and prophylaxis is used properly. But these two are problematic.”

Speaking further, the NACA boss said the country had made remarkable progress in expanding access to life-saving treatment for HIV, and that new infections were declining but that stigmatisation and discrimination were major barriers to controlling HIV and ending Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

He said, “Now, people come and test for HIV more than before, and that is enough to tell you that they do not feel stigmatised. People have started coming forward to ask for HIV services; they want to be tested and if they are HIV positive, they call our centre to know where treatment services are provided.

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“This is enough to say that having this number climbing shows that the amount of stigmatisation we have among people is declining because it is the stigmatisation and discrimination that put fear in people, and they find it very difficult to come forward. But now, people are coming forward for the services. That is not to say it does not exist, it is still our major barrier to controlling HIV and ending AIDS.”

He, however, said Nigeria was on course to meet the United Nations’ target of ending AIDS by 2030.

He stated, “There are two things. One, we must take steps to control the epidemic to reach 95-95-95, reduce transmission towards zero and ensure that we do not see AIDS in the community, that people do not die from AIDS, and that they do not occupy our hospital beds. We are on course with this and we are rapidly progressing.

“The second one is putting structures in place for country ownership and sustainability. After 2030, there is the likelihood that the big money we see around from the United States government and international donor agencies may not be available anymore. The reason is that most of the people that have the virus have been identified, the virus is no longer moving, and there are no new infections.”

He said what would be left was to sustain those on life-saving medication until a cure for AIDS was found.

He added, “That second phase is a challenge because no country has passed through it. Countries are expected to develop sustainability plans and ownership, and this is something we started two years ago with Global Fund and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in the form of what we call alignment.

“We have done the alignment of 1.0; we are now at alignment 2.0. With these, Nigeria is ahead of every country in the world in terms of putting structures in place for country ownership and sustainability after 2030.”