The United Nations AIDS Agency has revealed that an estimated 60,000 babies are born with HIV every year in Nigeria.
In a report titled ‘Progress Report in the Global Plan’, the agency averred that the figure was the highest for any country in the world.
The report, which was made available to The Punch, identified mother-to-child transmission as the major means in which these babies were being infected with the viral disease.
The report read: “Nigeria has the largest number of children acquiring HIV infection – nearly 60, 000, a number that has remained largely unchanged since 2009. Without urgent action in Nigeria, the global target is unlikely to be reached.
“Nigeria accounts for one-third of all new HIV infections among children in the world, the largest from any country. Progress here is therefore critical to eliminating new HIV infections among children globally.
“Nearly all indicators assessed show stagnation and suggest that the country is facing significant hurdles.”
In confirmation, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS had in one of their statistics identified that about 3.2 out of the 34 million people living with the virus in the world are Nigerians.
The survey showed that Nigeria accounted for 10 per cent of the global burden of HIV/AIDS.
Lending his voice in corroboration, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, while confirming that Nigeria had the highest number of children acquiring the infection, said the figures could only be reduced if more Nigerians, especially knew their HIV status.
Speaking at meeting of stakeholders in Lagos, the minister also said it was needful to increase funding so that more HIV patients could be placed on antiretroviral medication.
He said, “With the new guidelines, about 500,000 people need to be on treatment and we don’t have the resources. So we chose 100,000. However, we will be meeting with officials from UNAIDS to get more funding. Most importantly, we want Nigerians to know their HIV status.
“This will reduce transmission from mother to child because Nigeria is the highest contributor of paediatric HIV in the world and this cannot continue.”