BY BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Heartland Alliance, has raised the alarm over the scale of HIV infections in Nigeria currently standing at 100,000 per day.
Michael Akanji, a resource person at a round table workshop aimed at explaining the importance of government and donor agency commitment in endorsing newly approved biomedical prevention tools and utilisation of media platforms to create awareness of available service delivery points to actualise increased uptake of HIV prevention and testing services for a better coverage organised by the organisation and the AVAC 2020/2021 fellowship programme in Uyo, stated this while giving an overview of challenges of HIV prevention in Nigeria.
Akanji who said that increased budget, improved access to prevention techniques and sustainability options would help to reduce infection, expressed dissatisfaction over the continued high rate of HIV prevalence in Akwa Ibom State.
He explained that the country’s mode of transmission has risen to 83% but while the prevalence among the general population stood at 1.4%, that of men who have sex with other men, MSM, has risen to 22.9%, while that of female sex workers, BBFSW stood at 19.4% and has increased to 2.8% among people staying in correctional centres and other restricted spaces.
He decried government’s continued funding policy and emphasis on treatment of infected persons rather than prevention, saying that it has been counterproductive. He however, expressed hope that with results of recent researches and studies emphasis would soon shift to more funding for prevention.
Akanji called on stakeholders to increase their advocacy on the area of prevention by discouraging cultural and medical practices which tend to discourage prevention of infection among the populace.
Speaking on new biomedical prevention methods, the anchorman of the AVAC 2020/2021 fellowship programme, Ms Josephine Aseme said that limited prevention technology options, low coverage, increased incidences and poor funding are some of the reasons for lack of access to new prevention technologies.