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Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

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Nigerian News » Health

HIV/AIDS: Nigeria makes progress as more babies are born negative

Nigeria has made giant strides in its fight against the HIV/AIDS, as more children are being born HIV negative.

Again, the government has stated that every Nigerian who had tested positive to HIV would automatically be eligible for free treatment.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in Abuja, during the official opening of the central dissemination of the 2016 national guidelines for HIV prevention treatment and care, organised by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria.

The government also disagreed with critics that its HIV/AIDS programme had been a disaster, saying such criticism is a connotation of incompetence, compared with teh situation in other countries.

Ehanire emphasised that the treatment for persons who test positive to HIV/AIDS would no longer favour a selected few.

“I disagree completely with critics, not because I am compelled to disagree, but because nothing is happening around us that suggests that our HIV programme is a disaster,” the minister said.

At the event, the IHVN said the rate of infants infected with the virus from the womb has dropped effectively.

Ehanire said, “The 2016 guidelines is, by today’s standard, cutting edge, its recommendations are audacious, unambiguous and unapologetically pro-patient.

“From this day henceforth, everyone who tests positive to HIV is automatically eligible for treatment and this applies to everyone with equal emphasis, child, man and woman, pregnant or not.

“From today onward, we are duty bound to offer anti-retroviral drugs as prevention to all persons who are at a high risk of contracting HIV Infection. From today forward, all persons on treatment are entitled to at least one viral load test per year.

“From today, we will place greater emphasis on differentiated systems of care that are adjustable to the individual needs of the patient, and today, we hopefully bring to an end the argument over deeply divisive Option B and Option B+ saga.”

The Chief Executive Officer, IHVN, Dr. Patrick Dakum, said that less infants exposed to HIV in the country were born positive when compared to previous years.

He however stressed the need for Nigeria “which currently has the highest figure of infected infants in the world”, to join other countries in recording zero level of pregnant mother to child transmission of HIV, since the prevention method was long and known.

“We have come a long way. In the past, if 100 women who are positive give birth, almost 30 of the babies that are exposed will have HIV. Now in most facilities where these is, it is much more less than 3 per cent and we have less babies being born with HIV than it was before”, Dakum stated.
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