Akwa Ibom State in South South Nigeria, now has the highest AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) prevalence rate in Nigeria, according to the Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).
According to a report in Premium Times, about 5.5 per cent of the people living with HIV in Nigeria hail from Akwa Ibom State.
Benue State in North central Nigeria, follows closely with an AIDS prevalence rate of about 5.3 per cent.
The report also adds that the North-West has the lowest AIDS prevalence rate at 0.6 per cent, while the South-South geopolitical zone has the highest at 3.1 per cent.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Sani Aliyu was quoted to have said that about 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)—the virus that causes AIDS.
Among the 15-49 age bracket, 1.4 per cent (1.9 per cent among females and 0.9 per cent among males) are living with HIV, said Aliyu.
Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said now is not the time for states to trade blames, because progress is being made nonetheless.
“For the south-south, (it) is Akwa-Ibom that has the highest prevalence, and, for the North Central, it is still Benue State.
“But then we should also look at the quality of interventions we have had. Benue has one of the largest interventions programme in the country, so that is also expected to yield results.
“It would have been frustrating if with those interventions, we now have 10 per cent in Benue”, Adewole said.
David Young who is the Charge de Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America, according to Premium Times, said “beyond the data, the survey has proved the capacity of Nigerians working together in solidarity with one another to rise and resolve challenges regarding the health and well-being of their brothers and sisters.
“The US government is proud to support Nigeria in conducting the NAIIS survey.”
The Country Director, Center for Disease Control Nigeria (CDC), Mahesh Swaminathan said the results will help the government improve its efforts in the fight against the virus.
“The encouraging results presented today, along with ongoing monitoring and evaluation data will help the government of Nigeria to intensify efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDs to achieve epidemic control.
“CDC will continue to work alongside our Nigerian brothers and sisters in this fight”, he added.
HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that targets and alters the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of contracting other infections and diseases.
Modern anti-retroviral therapy has made it possible for HIV positive persons to live as long as their HIV negative counterparts.
NACA and the World Health Organisation (WHO) preach safe sex or abstinence as preventive measures.