The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it has assisted over 700,000 Adolescent and Young Person (AYPs) with HIV information in Kaduna State in the last two years.
Dr Idris Baba, UNICEF’s HIV and AIDS Specialist, Kaduna Field Office, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Saturday in commemoration of the 2018 World AIDS Day.
Baba disclosed that the programme which commenced in 2016 covering seven local government areas was in conjunction with Kaduna State Government.
He listed the LGAs to include Jama’a, Jaba, Lere, Kagarko, Igabi, Chikun and Birnin Gwari.
He said close to 90,000 of the AYPS now know their HIV status compared with the less than one per cent of the group which knew their status in 2016.
“We started the AYPs intervention in two local government areas of Jema’a and Jaba in 2016, and later scaled it up to five additional LGAs namely: Lere, Kagarko, Igabi, Chikun and Birnin Gwari.
“The intervention was designed to identify, locate and place on treatment all AYPs living with virus as part of efforts to reduce the rate of new HIV infection among the group,” he said.
He added that HIV prevalence among children based on a recent survey had dropped from 2.2 per cent to about one per cent in the state.
He described the development as a positive stride.
“What this means is that the rate of new infection is going down and we are keeping people alive on treatment.
“As long as we keep keeping people alive and on treatment, the rate of new infection will continue to drop.
“Prevalence rate will also drop and we will be sure to end AIDS epidemic by 2030,” he said.
The HIV specialist said that knowing one’s HIV status was the most important aspect of HIV intervention and key to treatment, prevention, care and support services.
He said “For this year, it is about people knowing their HIV status. This is because you only get to access HIV drugs and other services if you know your HIV status.
“You only enroll into prevention of mother-to-child transmission services if a pregnant mother attends antenatal care, tested for HIV and found to be positive.
“For those that are found to be negative, they are given different set of information to live negatively.
“So, the importance is not only for those that are positive but also for those that are negative to know what to do, moving forward to protect themselves and their loves ones.”
Baba lauded the Kaduna State Government for taking strong ownership of development partners HIV programmes and interventions in its domain.
He also said that the state had been very strategic in coming out with funds to take over from where partners are stopping.
He expressed confidence that the current dwindling resources from development partners would not affect Kaduna State, given its impressive commitment towards ending the epidemic.
Similarly, UNICEF Chief of Field Office in the state, Dr. Zakari Adam said UNICEF had recently supported the state with more than N1.2 billion to meet needs of women and children.
Adam listed the areas of interventions to include education, health, water sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, immunisation and HIV/AIDS.