Although December 1st marked the 2016 World AIDS day, The 2016 commemorative activities started earlier in the week with a 3-day national HIV Conference with the theme “Hands On for HIV prevention” that focused on prevention among adolescent girls, young women and key populations. Other events included a road walk in Abuja and major cities as well as radio discussions, television appearances and nationwide testing in the communities and health facilities.
The campaign against the spread of the deadly virus in Nigeria received a major boost with the launch of the National Guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care, to fast track action plans towards achieving the 90-90-90- targets. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the document to commemorate the 2016 World AIDS Day at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Unveiling the guidelines, President Buhari regretted that “of the 35 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the world, about 3.2 million of them are in Nigeria, accounting for almost 10% of the global burden, hence tackling the scourge of the disease in the country is a priority for Nigeria". He consequently restated government’s unwavering commitment, renewed political will and drive towards strengthening the country’s HIV response system to effectively eliminate the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole who represented the President at the event, further reaffirmed government’s resolve to institute transparency, accountability and plugging of wastages towards the improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the national HIV response. He further stated that the national guidelines will focus on “placing all people living with HIV on treatment”. According to him, government has put the machinery in motion to engage pharmaceutical companies to support the local production of anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) and rapid test kits (RTK) towards ensuring an AIDS free generation in Nigeria by 2030.
Dr Bilali Camara who spoke on behalf of the United Nations system in Nigeria acknowledged government’s political commitment towards the HIV/AIDS response by pledging 10 million dollars to the replenishment of the global funds in the 2017 budget is heart-warming. He however suggested that adolescent girls, young women and key populations be placed at the center of the response in order to achieve the 90-90-90 targets.