The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), a Federal Government’s agency saddled with the responsibility to monitor the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), has said that statistics showed that the police and the armed forces were among six groups with the highest risk of the virus.
This is contained in a statement issued by the NACA Director-General, Dr. Sani Aliyu, while delivering a lecture at the Ministry of Defence Health Implementation Programme in Abuja, the country’s capital.
The lecture titled: “HIV infection in Nigeria: Current trends, challenges and the way forward,” was initiated under a programme partly organised with the United States Department of Defence Walter Reed Programme Nigeria.
According to Aliyu, statistics also showed that 220,000 new cases of HIV infections were recorded nationwide in 2017.
He noted that according to the Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey, apart from the soldiers and policemen, other groups with high risks in the country were female sex workers, homosexuals, transport workers and drug addicts.
The NACA DG said, “Sub-Saharan Africa is the most severely affected with the HIV. Nearly one in every 25 adults lives with the virus.
“Also, Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic in the world. The factors include: inadequate knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention, low risk perception, low uptake of HIV testing services, multiple concurrent partnerships, ineffective and inefficient services for sexually transmitted infections.
“The six target groups mostly at risk of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria are female sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transport workers, men of the armed forces and the police.
“The Federal Government’s fast track plan for HIV treatment was launched in 2016 and its aims is to place 500,000 more people on treatment within 18 months, test 3,000,000 more pregnant women for HIV and place 75,000 pregnant women with HIV on treatment for life, among others.”